A team of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan employees is riding as many miles as they can this summer to raise money for Make-A-Wish of Michigan. The annual Wish-A-Mile ride typically draws 1,200 cyclists to Marshall for a 300-mile, three-day ride that can raise as much as $2 million for Make-A-Wish of Michigan. In 2020 organizers had to swiftly pivot the event to be virtual – and were able to raise $1.4 million for the cause.
For Todd Van Tol, senior vice president of Health Care Value at Blue Cross, the ability to log virtual miles allowed him to drop any excuses he had from participating in his first year riding in the event in 2020. He was a part of a team of 18 Blue Cross employees who raised $28,708. This year, Van Tol is working to organize a bigger team to raise more funds for the organization. Participants can ride on a stationary bicycle indoors or outdoors on a road bicycle through a virtual option. Some are logging miles all summer, while others are riding 100 miles during the Wish-A-Mile weekend July 25. The Wish-A-Mile ride is the biggest contributing fundraiser to Make-A-Wish of Michigan’s annual budget to supply wishes to children with life-threatening conditions. To Van Tol, the wait list of 850 children is what’s motivating him the most to fundraise and log miles.
“COVID stopped a lot of things, but it didn’t stop the kids and their families who are battling these critical illnesses,” Van Tol said. “The effect that these wishes have on children and their families is profound.” Make-A-Wish of Michigan was able to grant 248 wishes last year. Sondra Pedigo, vice president of HCV Performance and Execution Excellence at Blue Cross, first participated in the Wish-A-Mile ride in 2007 and is passionate about the event. She participated in the virtual event in 2020 and plans to ride virtually again this year. “It is such a great community of people that do the ride, and everyone immediately welcomed me,” Pedigo said. “Helping the children achieve their wishes is so rewarding and you know right where your fundraising dollars go; and the events are so well organized and thoughtful.” To join Team Blue Cross for the Wish-A-Mile event or to contribute to the cause, visit https://makeawishmichigan.donordrive.com/team/teambluecross. More from MIBluesPerspectives:
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Photo credits: T.J. Hamilton & Allison Farrand