A Sumiton man will be hiking more than 26 miles in the Talladega National Forest next month to raise awareness and funding for Make-A-Wish Alabama.Brandon Carter, a graduate student at the University …
A Sumiton man will be hiking more than 26 miles in the Talladega National Forest next month to raise awareness and funding for Make-A-Wish Alabama.
Brandon Carter, a graduate student at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, is participating in the Alabama Trailblaze Challenge.
He has been in training for months to prepare himself for a 26.3-mile hike on the Pinhoti Trail. His longest one-day hike to date was approximately 14 miles.
"I've been trying to continuously build up. If I do 12 miles this week, then next week I'll shoot for 16 to 18 miles. I have a big hike planned for May with friends that will be 30 miles over two days. That should get me ready," Carter said.
The endurance challenge is meant to simulate the difficult journey that children served by Make-A-Wish Alabama face while battling life-threatening medical conditions.
Make-A-Wish Alabama has granted more than 600 wishes since 2012. There are currently more than 300 children in the state waiting to have their wish granted.
Carter learned about the work of Make-A-Wish through news reports and stories from his sister, who worked at Children's Hospital while completing her clinicals.
"I got to hear a lot about the kids and some of the Make-A-Wish things there. That's one thing that made me want to do it, and since I'm a big hiker, that aspect of the challenge seemed really cool," Carter said.
The hike will be held on either Saturday, May 5 or Saturday, May 19.
Participants will be on the trail by 5 a.m. and will hike at their own pace.
Carter expects to be on the trail until late afternoon.
"A lot of it depends on the elevation. I'm anticipating to be out there to 3 p.m. or 4 p.m. at least," Carter said.
Volunteers will be set up at points along the trail to offer snacks, hydration, first aid and encouragement.
Make-A-Wish will be hosting a Friday night dinner, post-hike celebration and post-hike breakfast for participants.
Nearly 200 hikers are expected to participate in the challenge. Each has a personal fundraising goal of $2,500.
"It takes a lot of money to grant a wish. The money that we raise goes directly toward that," Carter said.
Carter has several fundraisers planned in the coming weeks.
Warehouse 319 in Jasper will be hosting a Spirit Night on Tuesday from 5 to 10 p.m. with a portion of the proceeds going to Make-A-Wish. Carter will also be present to accept donations.
For every $10 donated to the cause, Carter is providing a chance to win an 11x14 picture of a photo he took of Tennessee's Fall Creek Falls in January. The drawing will be held April 11.
Supporters can also give online at www.alabamatrailblaze.org. Search for Brandon Carter after clicking on the Support a Hiker link.
Donations can also be mailed to Make-A-Wish Alabama at 400 Vestavia Hills Parkway, Suite 402, Vestavia Hills, AL 35216.