Dozens participate in virtual Make-A-Wish challenge

EAST GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Dozens of hikers across the state hit the trails for a good cause this weekend to raise money for Make-A-Wish Michigan.

The event looked a little different this year due to the pandemic.

“The fact that Make-A-Wish allowed him to do something exciting in his life to make him happy and for me to be able to have the opportunity to give back and let other kids experience the same kinds of things Mason did just meant a lot to me,” Terri Sanchez said.

Sanchez, a 70-year-old from East Grand Rapids, decided this weekend she was going to take on a challenge. It’s something her grandson Mason knows all too well.

“I have a grandson who is a Wish child,” Sanchez said.

The 10-year-old has both hypoplastic left heart syndrome and CHARGE syndrome. This affects the blood flow to his heart.

“That required him to have three open heart surgeries,” Sanchez said. “He had one at 7 days, one at 7-and-a-half months and the other one just before he turned 4.”

Things are now looking up for Mason, a large part due to Make-A-Wish Michigan.

Sanchez, along with 60 other hikers are taking part in the organization’s Trailblaze Challenge and hiking 21 miles in different parts of the state. So far, the group has raised more than $76,000. They’re each hiking individually and logging their miles virtually due to COVID-19.

“Despite all the changes in these past months with the pandemic, the diagnoses of these critical illnesses has not changed. Events like this, like the Trailblaze Challenge, allow the community to step forward and make a difference,” said Karen Davis, the president and CEO of Make-A-Wish Michigan.

Sanchez says Mason got his wish four years ago and went to Walt Disney World. She now wants to make sure other kids get that same kind of joy.

“Just making things a little easier on them and allowing them to experience things that they might not otherwise get to do,” Sanchez said.

More information about Make-A-Wish Michigan can be found online.