Make a dif­fer­ence for Make-A-Wish kids

Mer­ritt Ath­letic Clubs’ 2nd an­nual Wish Race 5K to be held at CCBC Es­sex

The Avenue News - - FRONT PAGE - By: LISA HAR­LOW

On Sun­day, April 30, lace up your sneak­ers and head over to the Com­mu­nity Col­lege of Bal­ti­more County, Es­sex Cam­pus for Mer­ritt Ath­letic Clubs’ 2nd An­nual Wish Race 5K Run and Walk. The 3.1-mile event will fea­ture both a road race and trail run por­tions through­out the cam­pus. 100% of pro­ceeds will be do­nated to ben­e­fit Make-A-Wish MidAt­lantic.

Ac­cord­ing to Race Di­rec­tor An­drew Lin­gel­bach, who is an ACSM Cer­ti­fied Per­sonal Trainer at Mer­ritt Ath­letic Clubs, about 200 par­tic­i­pants are ex­pected to par­tic­i­pate in this fundraiser for Make-A-Wish, pre­sented by Chick-Fil-A Not­ting­ham Square.

Since 1980, Make-A-Wish has en­riched the lives of chil­dren with life-threat­en­ing med­i­cal con­di­tions. The or­ga­ni­za­tion’s mis­sion re­flects the life-chang­ing im­pact that a MakeA-Wish ex­pe­ri­ence has on chil­dren, fam­i­lies, and com­mu­ni­ties.

Tens of thou­sands of vol­un­teers, donors and sup­port­ers ad­vance the Make-A-Wish vi­sion to grant the wish of ev­ery child di­ag­nosed with a life-threat­en­ing med­i­cal con­di­tion. In the United States and its ter­ri­to­ries, on av­er­age, a wish is granted ev­ery 34 min­utes. Some wishes in­clude meet­ing fa­vorite celebri­ties or sports stars, go­ing to Dis­ney World or on other dream va­ca­tions, and hav­ing other ex­pe­ri­ences that they would never have had a chance to do oth­er­wise.

Last year’s Wish Race 5K was the first 5K that Mer­ritt Ath­letic Clubs has ever hosted in its 40-year his­tory. It all started the year prior when Lin­gel­bach, who has been with Mer­ritt for two and a half years, ran in a 5K spon­sored by an­other gym. There was not a good turnout, and Lin­gel­bach felt like there were things that could make the race bet­ter, so he ap­proached man­age­ment at Mer­ritt Ath­letic Clubs about do­ing their own 5K for char­ity.

Lin­gel­bach se­lected Make-A-Wish as the re­cip­i­ent for the pro­ceeds of the 5K be­cause as a tod­dler, he bat­tled child­hood can­cer like many of the Make-A-Wish kids.

“I am a child­hood can­cer sur­vivor. I went through the ma­jor­ity of my treat­ment when I was 3 and 4 years old so I re­ally don’t re­mem­ber much,” said Lin­gel­bach.

Lin­gel­bach was di­ag­nosed with retinoblas­toma, a can­cer that starts in the retina, the very back part of the eye, when he was one and a half years old. Ac­cord­ing to the Amer­i­can Can­cer So­ci­ety, retinoblas­toma is a rare dis­ease, but it is the most com­mon type of eye can­cer in chil­dren. Only about 200 to 300 chil­dren are di­ag­nosed with retinoblas­toma each year in the United States.

“Make-A-Wish helps kids who are es­sen­tially los­ing their child­hood be­cause they are deal­ing with their health, some­thing that most peo­ple take for granted,” he said. “I want to reach out and help that group of kids who weren’t as for­tu­nate as I was.”

Lin­gel­bach was treated with ra­di­a­tion and even­tu­ally had his left eye re­moved be­fore the can­cer had a chance to metas­ta­size. “I was very blessed,” he said. Last year, the 5K raised more than $3,000 for Make-A-Wish, and this year, the goal is to raise $5,000. Mer­ritt train­ers will be on hand to warm up the crowd prior to the race, which par­tic­i­pants can run or walk. There will also be food and mu­sic for run­ners and spec­ta­tors alike. MOM’s Or­ganic mar­ket will be do­nat­ing pro­duce for race par­tic­i­pants.

“We are look­ing for­ward to an even big­ger turnout this year for the 5K,” said Lin­gel­bach. “It’s a great cause and I hope that peo­ple will come out to sup­port it.”

You can reg­is­ter in per­son at the front desk at the Mer­ritt Ath­letic Club in White Marsh, by email at alin­gel­bach@mer­rittclubs.com, or reg­is­ter on the morn­ing of the race.

Here is a lit­tle more in­for­ma­tion on the Make-A-Wish wish grant­ing process: There are four steps to grant­ing a wish. Each step builds on the next to cre­ate amaz­ing ex­pe­ri­ences that de­light wish kids and their fam­i­lies. A wish ex­pe­ri­ence is fre­quently a source of in­spi­ra­tion for chil­dren un­der­go­ing dif­fi­cult med­i­cal treat­ments.

Step 1: Re­fer­ral

Make-A-Wish re­lies on med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als, par­ents and chil­dren them­selves for re­fer­rals. Chil­dren who have reached the age of 2½ and are un­der the age of 18 at the time of re­fer­ral and have not re­ceived a wish from an­other wish-grant­ing or­ga­ni­za­tion may be el­i­gi­ble for a wish.

Step 2: Med­i­cal El­i­gi­bil­ity

They de­ter­mine a child’s med­i­cal el­i­gi­bil­ity with the help of the treat­ing physi­cian. To re­ceive a wish, the child must be di­ag­nosed with a life-threat­en­ing med­i­cal con­di­tion (i.e., a pro­gres­sive, de­gen­er­a­tive or ma­lig­nant con­di­tion that has placed the child’s life in jeop­ardy).

Step 3: The Wish

They send one of their en­thu­si­as­tic wish teams to learn the child’s one true wish. These com­mit­ted vol­un­teers con­nect with wish chil­dren, awaken their imag­i­na­tions and help them en­vi­sion an ex­pe­ri­ence with the power to change lives.

Step 4: Cre­at­ing Joy

The wish granters cre­ate an un­for­get­table ex­pe­ri­ence driven by the child’s cre­ativ­ity. They strive to per­son­al­ize each wish and to make it match the wish kid’s idea of a per­fect day.

Wishes don’t just hap­pen on their own. Make-A-Wish is only able to cre­ate lifechang­ing wish ex­pe­ri­ences with help from ded­i­cated staff, vol­un­teers, donors and other sup­port­ers, like those who will par­tic­i­pate in the Wish Race 5K.

Mer­ritt Ath­letic Clubs’ 2nd An­nual Wish Race 5K

Sun­day, April 30 at 9 a.m. Com­mu­nity Col­lege of Bal­ti­more County — Es­sex Cam­pus 7201 Rossville Boule­vard Bal­ti­more, MD 21237 For more in­for­ma­tion, go to http://midat­lantic.wish.org/ news-and-events/cal­en­dar-ofevents/ events- time- folder/ fy17-events/mer­ritt-ath­let­ic­club-5k-run-and-walk.

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF THE MAKE-A-WISH FOUN­DA­TION.

Ten-year-old An­niyah from Tem­ple Hills, MD, is di­ag­nosed with a ner­vous sys­tem dis­or­der & wished to go to Walt Dis­ney World Re­sort.

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