Prof Takes a Hike to Make a Wish
Aiken, SC (03/07/2019) — One biology professor at the University of South Carolina Aiken has taken her love for the subject out of the classroom and into the woods - all to help dreams come true for young children.
Dr. Michelle Vieyra turned her lifelong love of hiking and nature into a personal physical challenge that has her preparing for a 28.3-mile hike on the Foothills Trail in May that will benefit the Make-a-Wish Foundation.
"I was initially inspired by the physical challenge," Vieyra said. "I have been working hard to get into better shape the last year and thought this would be a great motivator.
"Since meeting the people who are involved in Make-a-Wish I have become more and more inspired by what they do. Of course helping to bring happiness to children who are sick or disabled is a great cause, but I am equally moved by the gift that this is to their families.
"I can't think of a better way to spend 10-13 grueling hours."
The big event on May 11 begins at 4 a.m. She will start the hike in the dark, wearing a headlamp. For most people, it will take 10-13 hours to complete the hike. Fortunately, every six miles or so there is a "comfort station" with fluids, snacks, chairs, and first aid in case it's needed.
To prepare for the Foothill Trail hike, Vieyra is hiking every chance she gets, adding more distance to each one. The Make-a-Wish Foundation of South Carolina offers organized training hikes every other weekend. In addition, as part of a group of hikers also preparing for the May event, she joins in other challenging hikes during the off weekends.
Although she stepped out on this journey solo, she's made several friends who are working toward the same goal. Recently, along with several other Make-a-Wish participants, she took on a hike that was almost 10 miles long.
"The first hike was four miles, and they get progressively longer until we do a 20-mile hike two weeks before the event," said the biology professor who also teaches anatomy, physiology, animal behavior, animal nutrition and neurobiology.
"Aside from that, you are encouraged to work on strength training, specifically squats, lunges, and deadlifts. I have been doing all that at the gym."
Vieyra says she chose to support Make-a-Wish specifically because the challenge is a hike.
"Most charities do marathons, and I hate to run."
The real motivation, though, is not only the personal satisfaction but also the difference she's making.
"Having a child who is suffering is a terrible thing for a parent who feels helpless to do anything to help ease the pain," she said.
"The hope and joy that these wishes bring to these kids is so life changing for them and their families."
While Vieyra is doing the hard part, trekking all through the region, she hopes others will help by sponsoring her. All proceeds will go directly to the Make-a-Wish Foundation of South Carolina. To sponsor Vieyra, go to: https://secure2.wish.org/site/TR/InternalChapterEvent/Make-A-WishSouthCarolina?px=4637128&pg=personal&fr_id=3201&fbclid=IwAR0_0QcTsmJS0SAH6ew7q9ISmYnz-hvblYG87KaFHarHaKNYGJcXE9XFE84
Additionally, USC Aiken Student Life is sponsoring a Zumba-thon on April 6, 10 a.m. - noon, in the Student Activities Center in the heart of campus. She has several Zumba instructors lined up to donate their time, teaching participants just how to have fun and get in shape at the same time. The cost to Zumba is $3 for students and $10 for everyone else.
"Anyone who likes to burn calories while having fun should give it try and support a great cause in the process," Vieyra said.