GLENDALE SPRINGS — Beginning shortly after Thanksgiving, a local Ashe County hiker will take to North Carolina’s famed Mountains to Sea Trial. His goal: help raise $247,500 for the Make-A Wish-Foundation in honor of his late daughter.
Over the course of the last decade, Ashe County resident Jeff Simpson has raised around $22,000 hiking for the different organizations, which assisted his family throughout his daughter Rebecca’s battle with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia.
This fall, Simpson will hit the trail once again in hopes of raising money and awareness for Make-A-Wish North Carolina, a nonprofit that helped fulfill one of Rebecca’s wishes before her passing in 2007 at age 17.
“Her wish was to go to New York City in the winter time and watch it snow, go to the Rockefella Center and see the live nativity scene, go to the American Girl store and she wanted to go see Phantom of the Opera,” Simpson said. “Make-A-Wish made an unbelievable trip happen. We got picked up by a limo at our house, driven to the airport, picked up by a limo at the airport in New York City, we got to stay in Time Square, it was an awesome trip. It was magical.”
A seasoned hiker, Simpson has also raised money on behalf of The Leukemia-Lymphoma Society, UNC Children’s Hospital, St. Baldrick’s Foundation and CureSearch while tramping along the Appalachian National Scenic Trail.
Acknowledging that his goal for this year’s fundraising hike is a high one, Simpson pointed out that the amount of money he hopes to raise has a special meaning.
“My goal is pretty ambitious. My daughter, had she lived, would be 33-years old this year and the average wish cost $7,500,” Simpson said. “So, I multiplied 7,500 by 33 and got 247,500.”
Simpson will begin the first leg of his 1,175 mile journey along the Mountain to Sea Trail on Nov. 29, heading westward from the trail’s eastern terminus at Jockey’s Ridge State Park. Simpson noted that he hopes to meet with with the families of Make-A-Wish children along the way, as well as spread awareness about the foundation with other people on the trail.
“This is not about me, this is about the kids that are sick in the hospital who are hoping to go on their wish next month, or in the next year,” Simpson said. “If you’ve ever been to the hospital and watched these kids and their families, it’s pretty amazing.”
Those wishing to contribute to Simpson’s cause can make a donation online at site.wish.org/goto/jeffsimpson Donations can also be made via check to: Make-A-Wish NC, 217 East Tremont Ave, Suite 400, Charlotte, NC 28203 (For Simpson Bucket List Hike.)
More information about Make-A-Wish Central and North Carolina can be found at secure2.wish.org/site/TR?fr_id=4001&pg=entry.