In the world of endurance sports, you often hear, “don’t peak too early.” For Matthew Wall, that simply doesn’t matter when he wakes up at 3:30 a.m. to conquer another hike for Trailblaze Challenge benefiting Make-A-Wish South Carolina. On Saturday, September 30, 2023, Matthew Wall of Landrum, South Carolina completed his 20th Trailblaze Challenge hike.
Trailblaze Challenge is an endurance hike hosted by Make-A-Wish South Carolina that coaches hikers through training and completing a 20+ mile hike while fundraising to grant essential wishes for children battling critical illnesses. On September 30, Matthew completed 28.3 miles on the Foothills Trail to reach a milestone 20th hike – the most ever by a single hike participant.
On the Foothills Trail hike, Matthew faced down that early wake up call to hit the trail at 5 a.m., trek alongside the Chattooga River and over many hills because he believes in the power of a wish. Make-A-Wish South Carolina, together with supporters like Matthew, creates life-changing wishes for children with critical illnesses. A wish experience turns anxiety into hope and fear into confidence. Trailblaze Challenge is designed to parallel the wish journey of families – from the lows of the unknown and scary to the highs of the hope and accomplishment. The design of the journey creates understanding and advocating for wishes.
Matthew’s first hike with Trailblaze Challenge was in 2017. Since that first hike, he has reached many summits on a variety of trails, overcome challenging weather conditions, and pushed himself to beat personal goals. He has become a dear friend to many in the Trailblaze Challenge family of alumni and is affectionally known as The Great Wall because of his kindness to all on trail and most importantly, his commitment to granting wishes.
Matthew is so devoted to creating wishes that in 2021 he joined the staff of Make-A-Wish South Carolina as its Volunteer Manager. He works each day to help volunteers connect with wish families all over South Carolina to create life-changing wishes that bring hope, joy and strength. He also directly volunteers himself and has helped many kids discover their heartfelt wish.
Matthew stated, “I’m always humbled, and maybe a bit spoiled to be able to use something I love like hiking and being in nature, to create hope and light for wish kids. Many of these kids would love nothing more than for the simple opportunity of playing outside. Part of why I hike is for those that I wish I could trade places with, even if just for the day. I’m most proud of being the first individual to ever hike 20 Trailblaze Challenges–because it’s a huge personal accomplishment, but also by doing so I have been able reach the community around me and raised enough to grant 8 wishes!”
Over the course of his 20 hikes, Matthew has raised more than $61,000 for wishes and hike more than 550 miles across South Carolina. That is an astounding accomplishment that we could not be more appreciative of.
“It is such a gift to have Matthew Wall in Make-A-Wish’s corner,” said Misty Farmer, President and CEO of Make-A-Wish South Carolina. “Matthew’s passion for helping others and his commitment to his goals is an inspiration to everyone around him. Whether he is dressing in costume to make a child’s wish exciting or completing paperwork to see their wish moved along in its process or hiking on a trail to raise funds and awareness, Matthew is steadfast in his determination to create hope and joy for our brave wish kids. I consider our chapter very lucky to have him as a staff member, volunteer and Trailblazer.”
We are so grateful for Matthew’s devotion to helping improve the lives of South Carolina wish families through a wish experience. He is a true wish maker.
Make-A-Wish® creates life-changing wishes for children with critical illnesses. We are on a quest to bring every eligible child’s wish to life because a wish is an integral part of a child’s treatment journey. Research shows children who have wishes granted can build the physical and emotional strength they need to fight a critical illness. The chapter receives funding through private donations, individuals, companies, and special events. For more information about Make-A-Wish South Carolina, visit wish.org/sc and discover ways you can help make wishes come true.