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Trailblazers: Hartselle trio takes on challenge for Make-A-Wish Alabama

For Paula and Amber Hicks, Jan. 22 was a day of celebration. It was Amber’s one-year anniversary of being cancer free.  

The Hartselle High School graduate and student-athlete was first diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2015 

Now, the mother-daughter duo, along with Amber’s boyfriend William Engels, are lacing up their hiking boots and taking on the challenge of a lifetime to give back to a cause that is close to their hearts.  

Their team will be taking on the Trailblaze Challenge, an endurance hiking event hosted by Make-A-Wish AlabamaAlong with other participants, they will hike 26.3 miles on the Pinhoti Trail in one day, all while raising money to fund life-changing wishes for children with critical illnesses in Alabama.  

Their goal? To raise $8K, the average cost of granting a wish for a child.  

“I am a true believer that God blesses those that bless others,” Paula said. “So, we wanted to pay our blessing forward. Choosing Make-A-Wish was an easy decision because William’s daughter Isabel received a wish after being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at 3 years old. 

Paula said Isabel spent nearly three years in the hospital undergoing a bone marrow transplant before chemotherapy and radiation would be effective. 

From William’s perspective as a father, you are grasping at anything that will keep your child motivated to fight,” Paula said. Isabel did not understand why she had a port and PICC line, she just wanted long hair like her twin sister, Abigail. Make-A-Wish made her dream come true by granting her wish to meet Mickey Mouse and become a princess.  

For Paula, Amber and William, the money they are able to raise will go to a cause that is changing lives.  

We want people to know, for many of these kids, their earliest memories are being sick, in pain, and living in hospitals. Isabel’s Make-A-Wish was her first purely pleasant experience she can recall,” Paula said.  

“Wishes inspire hope on a child’s weakest day,” she added.  

Make-A-Wish Alabama has nearly 250 children waiting for their wishes to be granted 

The team will begin accepting donations May 8, and they are already preparing for their hike. Their weekends are spent in preparation, hiking 1020-mile trails in Birmingham and Huntsville.  

April 3 the team will be holding a raffle to benefit Make-A-Wish. A $5 donation buys a ticket, and the winner gets a onenight stay at the Shoals Marriot Hotelbreakfast for two aSwampers Bar and Grill, dinner for two 360 Grill and a pool bag with goodies.  

More information about the raffle can be found on Paula’s Facebook page.  

For businesses that would like to support the team and Make-A-Wish, sponsorships are available starting at $500.  

To donate to their cause, visit http://site.wish.org/goto/LymphomaniacsMoney is due June 1.  

Paula, Amber and William are also planning a garage sale next month that will benefit their fundraising efforts. To donate items to be sold, call or text Paula at 256345-0405.