Making wishes come true with Bulldog track and field

 Illustration by: Will Madison

Illustration by: Will Madison

The UMD Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) coordinated with UMD athletic teams to put together the third annual Walk for Wishes event on Oct. 1. The 5k run at Bagley Nature Center benefited the Make-A-Wish foundation, which grants wishes to children with life-threatening medical conditions. Sophomore Paige DuBois, a mid-distance runner for the women’s track and field team, helped collect funding and spread awareness leading up to the event.

“I joined SAAP this year,” DuBois said. “I just saw it as a great opportunity for volunteering and, being a student athlete here, we abide by the three C’s of classroom, competition, and community.”

Bulldog athletes were joined by children and families who benefited from the Make-A-Wish foundation. DuBois said that seeing the Make-A-Wish families at the event was a positive experience for the athletes.

“I think that us athletes going out there and volunteering is super important because we get a lot of support from the community and to give back to the community is important,” DuBois said. “When one of the families talked and shared their story of what Make-A-Wish did for them, it was a really humbling experience for us to hear that and just to know that we’re part of something that’s hopeful and positive.”

Fellow sophomore mid-distance runner Tayler Hebner was one of 17 members of the women’s track and field team that attended the Walk for Wishes. The athletes were at the event to give their support to the families participating in the run.

“It’s really cool whenever we get a bunch of my teammates together to do something like that because it really does show what we’re giving back to the community and it’s a lot of fun to go do together,” Hebner said. “We get a lot out of it and also the organizations we’re supporting get a lot out of it.”

According to DuBois, the Make-A-Wish goal for the Walk for Wishes was set to raise $15,000, but the run raised almost $19,000, a huge improvement over last year’s $12,000 mark. SAAP set a goal for each athletic team participating to raise at least $100; the women’s track and field team raised over $200. Hebner said that it was rewarding to see the families benefiting from their hard work.

“It was really cool to see the kids walk by that you could identify as someone who was granted a wish because we knew that this is who we were helping and you could actually see where your time is going and where your effort is going,” Hebner said.

CultureTyler Schendel