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Shawna’s Walk for Make-A-Wish Takes Place Nov. 1

By Emma Cummings-Krueger ‘16

Lace up your walking shoes because it’s nearly time for the annual Shawna’s Walk for Wishes fundraising event, which will take place on Sunday, Nov. 1. Now in its sixth year, Shawna’s Walk aids the Make-a-Wish Foundation in granting wishes in the local community.

From 11 a.m. until 2 p.m., 12-year-old Shawna Cummings will join participants in St. Lawrence University’s Newell Field House for a walk-a-thon and student-run activity booths. Refreshments will be available courtesy of a donation from Josie’s Little Pizzeria. The walk will begin at noon with lawn games, a silent action, face painting, dance competitions and more.

“It’s exciting to see the amount of participants that are coming out this year,” said Alexandra Vining ’16, a community mentor at St. Lawrence’s Center for Civic Engagement (CCE). “We at the CCE have been working really hard to encourage more participation from SLU students, as well as the surrounding three colleges.”

Group and student-club rates are available for teams that have preregistered. General admission at the event is $5 per person, and independent donations will also be accepted. Shawna’s Walk for Wishes has raised over $42,000 to date, and her goal for this year is $10,000.

Proceeds from the event will be split between the Make-A-Wish Central New York branch and the Double H Ranch in Lake Luzurne, New York. Double H Ranch offers a camp for families of children with disabilities and critical illness to stay for free. Shawna’s own family has attended the camp for several years, and this year they hope to give back by purchasing every item on the Ranch’s Amazon wish list. The remainder of the funds raised will be donated to Make-a-Wish, whose Central New York branch has granted 1,600 wishes since 1985.

One of these wishes was Shawna’s. At only 2-weeks-old, Potsdam-native Shawna was diagnosed with a rare metabolic disorder. At the age of 5, she received her first wish from Make-a-Wish Central New York, traveling to Orlando, Florida, to meet Disney princesses and dolphins. Following her own experience, Shawna wanted to help others feel the same joy.

“For her 8th birthday, she wanted a walk-a-thon to help other children,” said Kayse Brunnell ’18, a community mentor for CCE. “I think that says a lot about a person, especially such a young person.”

Now at the age of 12, Shawna has successfully helped grant the wishes of several other critically ill or disabled children in the local area. She and her family have attended all five Walks for Wishes, at each of which Shawna speaks to attendees on her own experience. “You can tell how thankful she is that St. Lawrence holds this event for her, and it is amazing to see how happy she is during the entire event,” Alexandra said. 

This year for the first time, CCE will also host a Kick-Off Event for Shawna’s Walk on Friday, Oct. 23. The event will be held from 2:30 until 4:30 p.m. in the Sullivan Student Center atrium. The kick-off will raise awareness and participation for Shawna’s walk and will offer t-shirt sales, refreshments, music and a photo booth.

For more information, visit the Center for Civic Engagement or contact Julie Johnson at 315-229-5095. Learn more about Shawna’s story by visiting her fundraiser’s website.