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Saturday, September 17, 2005 -- Kanawha State Forest - Charleston, WV
Make-A-Wish Dream Run '05 (iPO Event Id#: 7065)
Story and photos by Ariana Kincaid

[Details] [Coverage] [Overall Results] [Pic Set 1] [Pic Set 2] [Pic Set 3] [Pic Set 4]

Past Coverage: [1998] [1999] [2000] [2001] [2002] [2003] [2004]

Photo by Ariana Kincaid
Enjoying the day in Charleston
Saturday, September 18, 2005, at Kanawha State Forest was a comfortable morning, not chilly, but just a little misty fog in places to remind us that autumn is on the way. The Kanawha Valley Chapter of Credit Unions sponsored it's annual Dream Run for the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Southern West Virginia, and over forty runners and 20-plus walkers took part in the healthful and helpful 5k run and 2-mile walk.

While the results were being tabulated, we heard from Angela Groves, Regional Manager for the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Greater Pennsylvania and Southern West Virginia. Incidentally, that's the largest Make-A-Wish Foundation Chapter anywhere.

Money raised by this race will stay in Southern West Virginia, where donations and race fees funded 78 wishes for children with life-threatening illnesses last year. The biggest wish is still the Disney Cruise on the "Big Red Boat," though other wishes are granted.

Photo by Ariana Kincaid
Keeping the kids involved too
The average cost of a wish is $3400. We also heard from Melanie Wright, a former grantee of Make-A-Wish. Witty, poised, and pretty, Melanie is now 22 years old and a senior at Marshall University.

She was granted her wish at the age of 17, when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, the youngest person at that time diagnosed with the disease. _Melanie's little brother wrote a letter to Make-A-Wish to alert them to her condition. When the Make-A-Wish folks showed up on her doorstep to let her family know she was eligible and to talk to them about the program, Melanie said her first thought was, "Oh, no! I really AM going to die!"

She had the same misconception that many folks have. She thought the Make-A-Wish Foundation grants wishes only to children who are terminal. However, the Foundation's goal is to fund wishes for children who have life-threatening illnesses. Melanie made a list of three wishes, and Make-A-Wish went to work.

Photo by Ariana Kincaid
Getting together for the cause
One of the wishes on her list was to be in a country music video. Melanie and the rest of her family flew to Los Angeles, where she appeared in the video, Travis Tritt's Modern Day Bonnie & Clyde, which also features movie star, Billy Bob Thornton. While in L.A., she and her family got to see the usual sights, Universal Studios and Disneyland. Melanie said, "It was the best week of my life." She credits Make-A-Wish for saving her life. "At the time", she said, "I was so down. Now I stand here today to tell you that if Make-A-Wish hadn't come into my life when it did, I wouldn't be here. Thank you for being here today and supporting this effort."

The Credit Unions crew awarded door prizes, graciously donated by local businesses and individuals. While Carolyn Schultz and her amazing tabulating team used the last little bit of time they needed to figure who would get the accolades.

First overall was Marshall Spradling, with a time of 17:13. Behind him in second place was Jeremy Gladwell, at 18:00, and third place was Randy Wheeler (19:04). The first finishing female was Ann Grishaber, who, with a time of 22:14 finished seventh overall. Second place went to Ann Ward, (23:20). The third-finishing female was Susan Baldwin with 23:43. First place male in the walk was Cody Walker (what an appropriate last name by the way), and the first place female was Toni Bennett. Thanks to all who participated, the proceeds go to a terrific cause.