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Jamestown site of first Walk for Wishes

Submitted photo Volunteers gather to plan the Make A Wish Indoor 5K Walk for Wishes 2012, including, front, from left, Amanda Athon and Emily Anderson, and back, from left, Bonny Loose, Deb Thompson, Kendra Waterman, Katie Stumpf and Michelle Tompkins. Loose, Thompson and Waterman are Make-A-Wish wish grantors, and Stumpf, Tompkins, Athon and Anderson are nursing students at Jamestown College who have volunteered to assist at the Walk for Wishes.

Local walkers will have the unique opportunity to help grant children's wishes while they walk at the upcoming Indoor 5K Walk for Wishes 2012, a fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation of North Dakota.

Three or four children from the Jamestown area who face life-threatening illnesses are granted wishes through the foundation every year, referred to the program by a doctor.

"This program is near and dear to my heart. There's absolutely nothing more humbling than seeing these kids' wishes come true," said Deb Thompson, chairman of the committee organizing the Walk for Wishes.

Though Make-A-Wish has had walks in the past, this will be the first event of its kind in Jamestown, and the first Make-A-Wish fundraiser here for about 10 years.

"We're just really hoping for huge support from the community," Thompson said.

Make-A-Wish serves children age 2 1/2 to 18 years old who are faced with a life-threatening -- not necessarily terminal -- illness.

Children can wish to go somewhere, meet someone, have something or be something, such as a princess. Through Make-A-Wish children have met Orlando Bloom, played with the Green Bay Packers, gone to Hawaii and received a backyard playground.

Typically, wishes cost about $6,000 in cash and an additional $2,500 in in-kind donations, such as a free night donated by a hotel or a free limousine ride donated by a cab company.

The Make-A-Wish Foundation of North Dakota has granted more than 600 wishes since its creation in 1985, Thompson said.

Anyone can participate in the walk for free, but walkers are encouraged to support the Make-A-Wish Foundation by collecting pledges. Any who collect pledges of $25 or more will receive a T-shirt, and any walkers who raise more than $100 will be eligible to have their names drawn for additional prizes, such as a Kindle.

Pledges can all be handled online, and walkers do not have to handle any cash, Thompson said. People can register to walk as individuals or teams, and attend as part of a family, church group, school or office team.

Students from the Jamestown College Nursing Association are teaming up to help assist with the walk, along with Thompson and fellow wish grantors Bonny Loose and Kendra Waterman.

Children who have been granted wishes will speak at the event. In addition, a DJ will play music, and the Jamestown Clowns will provide balloon art and entertaining. Granola bars and water will be available for all walkers.

"It's definitely family oriented," Thompson said. "... you are supporting making wishes come true for kids, and who doesn't like to see wishes come true?"

To register online for the walk, visit northdakota.wish.kintera.org .

Walkers can also register from 9 to 10 a.m. Feb. 4, with the walk beginning at 10 a.m., at the Jamestown Business Center.

For more information, call 251-2237 or email dthompson@iret.com.

Sun reporter Kari Lucin can be reached at 701-952-8453 or by email at klucin@ jamestownsun.com

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