Hike 26.3 miles + grant wishes. Be a Trailblazer with Make-A-Wish Alabama!

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Make-A-Wish Alabama
26.3 miles in one day—that’s more than a marathon! Photo via Make-A-Wish Alabama

Calling all adventurers! This spring, you can join a team of Alabamians on a 26.3-mile hike in support of children with critical illnesses waiting on a wish in Alabama. Find out how.

Trailblaze Challenge is a Whole Lot More than a Fundraiser

Make-A-Wish Alabama
Appropriate for experienced hikers and those who have never hiked before—full training and support is included. Photo via Make-A-Wish Alabama

26.3 miles. 1 day. This life-changing endurance experience, hosted by Make-A-Wish Alabama, mimics the journey Alabama Wish Kids go through. It ultimately helps Make-A-Wish Alabama grant wishes to the approx. 200 children with critical illnesses in our state.

Trailblaze Challenge happens every spring, where participants from all over the state hike 26.3 miles of the Pinhoti Trail in Oxford, AL. The scenic trek provides an opportunity for adventure, fun and fitness while making a direct impact on the lives of children in our community battling critical illnesses.

26.3 miles may sound a bit daunting, but don’t forget—this is a hike, not a race. Trailblaze Challenge caters to all fitness levels, from novice to advanced outdoor enthusiasts. Water and snacks, medical aid, etc are all provided for you.

“Trailblaze Challenge completely changed my life. I was introduced to the Make-A-Wish Alabama mission during my first year and have been hooked ever since. It is one of the best things I have ever done.”

Trevor Trainer, three-time hiking alumnus and current Make-A-Wish Alabama Board Member

How Does it Work?

Make-A-Wish Alabama
Make-A-Wish chapters all over the county host Trailblaze Challenges annually, but Alabama’s challenge is one of the five largest across all chapters in the country. Photo via Make-A-Wish Alabama

First things first, attend an info session in January. These are no-commitment, but they are mandatory if you’re interested in participating. Just head to their website and RSVP for one of the 19 info sessions happening all over the state—8 of which are in the Birmingham area.

After signing up, you’ll have the opportunity to pick between two hike weekends:

  • April 17-19
  • May 1-3

Now, don’t worry. You’re not on your own here. Following the initial meeting in January, you will train with and work alongside Make-A-Wish staff and experienced hike leaders for 12 weeks to prepare you for your journey in both training and fundraising.

You’ll receive a personal training schedule, have the opportunity to participate in bi-weekly training hikes and receive instruction on footwear and hiking gear from seasoned professionals. Make-A-Wish will make sure that you have every tool available to make you successful on and off the trail.

The hike is open to participants in the Birmingham, Huntsville and Mobile areas, so be sure to recruit your friends and family from all over the state. Hotel accommodations and food are included for your hike weekend!

Think You’re a Trailblazer?

Make-A-Wish Alabama
The adventurous 12-week group training program is led by experienced hike leaders and outdoor safety experts. Photo via Make-A-Wish Alabama

When you take your first step on your journey as a Trailblazer, you are paving the way for a brighter tomorrow for children right here in your community. Ready to accept the challenge? Interested in learning more? Here are your next steps.

Head over to their website to get more information, as well as RSVP for one of the mandatory, no-commitment information sessions in January. They’re happening all over the state throughout the month, including the Birmingham area, Mobile, Madison and Huntsville.

You can join the challenge as an individual or gather a team of coworkers, family members or friends. This is Make-A-Wish Alabama’s highest-grossing fundraising event of the year, raising over $450,000 last year alone.

“With more than 50 alumni hikers returning this year, it is clear that this event can be life-changing.

We are so proud of Trailblaze Challenge and the amazing work our hikers do to raise funds and awareness across the state.”

Valerie Gerber, hiking alumna and Make-A-Wish Alabama VP of Advancement

Challenge yourself and be a part of something special. Become a Trailblazer with Make-A-Wish Alabama!

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  • A Birmingham transplant who can usually be found hitting a new hiking trail or restaurant opening when she's not writing stories and snapping photos for Bham Now.