I’ve been quiet because words come too fast and also too slowly. The things I want to share about the Trailblaze Challenge I took up were the Who’s, the What’s, the Why’s. I’ve told you some of the How’s. But the W’s… those are the things that need to be digested. For all my ambition to blog every step of my Make-A-Wish fundraising way, I ended up taking a step back from my social media sharing to do what most of us these days are mindlessly forgetting to do: embrace the experience. 

So here I am, on the brink of Hike Weekend, penning a post to let you know that I am still in this, I am still humbly asking for monetary donations, and I am still planning to push myself to my physical limits to hike the Mahican-Mohawk Trail in western Massachusetts on Saturday for 30 challenging miles.

Yep, that’s more miles than a marathon. And hell yeah, that’s 12 miles more than my max training hike was. That one took my about seven and a half hours to do so I’m guessing 30 miles will take me a good 12 hours, give or take.

I’ve learned a lot and I plan to share those stories, post-hike, after I’ve had time to collect the stories of my fellow hikers and their reasons for taking this daunting challenge.

One thing I will share now is this: it is a hell of a lot harder to gain potential supporters when you don’t have a directly personal story that is fueling your motivation. I was surprised by that for some reason, but not discouraged.

So here it is. I don’t need to have suffered the anguish of being a parent whose child is battling serious illness to have compassion and want to do something to help. What I have is a natural affection for kids. It’s nothing more than that. Maybe a few real-life examples will help you to get what I mean.

On a recent training hike, I watched as three little ones joined a woman on the town Green as she did what looked to be Tai Chi. They took her instruction and then mimicked her movements. They laughed, they connected. I looked on, smiling. Warmed. 

In church, I’ve watched children accompany their parents in line for Holy Communion. They fold their arms to accept a blessing or they take the wafer, depending on their age. Or they are carried in the arms of their mother or father because they are too young to walk. Their faces are indescribably beautiful in their purity. That’s a gift, and I have received it more times than I can count.

On a recent training walk, I watched as three little ones joined a woman on the Town Green as she did what looked to be Tai Chi. They mimicked her movements, they laughed, they connected. Another gift. 

On my ride home from work today, I found myself behind a school bus, its back seats filled with rambunctious middle-school aged children trying to get the driver of an 18-wheeler alongside them to honk his horn.

I knew it was a matter of time before it happened. No, the truck driver did not honk. I knew that the kids would eventually turn their attention to me, the lady driver following their bus. I knew. And I was not disappointed. The smile was on my face before those kids even gestured to me.

They started waving.

You know I waved back.

Connected.

It’s the way children express themselves, without hangup or pretense. It’s a purity I can’t find a word for. It’s a combination of things: Joy. Innocence. Love. Humor. Curiosity. Sincerity.

And guess what? All of those things are qualities in the kids I am hiking for, too. The difference is, the Make-A-Wish kids are learning to develop a few other qualities as well: perseverence, strength, and a host of others.

So I’m giving back. Just like all the other “unknown” children — as well as those I know and love — who have put a smile on my face or warmed my heart, I’m giving of myself what I can, in the purest form I can manage. 

With the Trailblaze Challenge looming, I am a mere $425 shy of my $2,500 fundraising goal. I’ll get it one way or the other. Just don’t tell me that I don’t have a good enough reason to ask for help on their behalf. 20160929_182950

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