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'Walk for Wishes' set Sunday

John Swanson was 4 years old when he was granted a wish - to visit Disney World - from the Make-A-Wish Foundation. It was 1992, and John had a brain stem tumor. He and his mother, Sandy, made the trip together. "I remember him being really excite...

John Swanson was 4 years old when he was granted a wish - to visit Disney World - from the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

It was 1992, and John had a brain stem tumor. He and his mother, Sandy, made the trip together.

"I remember him being really excited about the trip and being away," Sandy said Friday. "It was a exciting time and it was an amazing time."

They stayed at Give Kids the World Village, which features an ice cream parlor that is open all day, an unlimited free arcade, and a restaurant in the shape of a gingerbread house.

John wore a badge signifying his status as a Make-A-Wish kid. Disney characters would stop to spend time with him, his mother said. He visited EPCOT, Sea World, Universal Studios, Disney World and other attractions.

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John Swanson has since passed away, but his mother continues the Make-A-Wish journey. For the past four years, Sandy has served on the board of directors for North Dakota's Make-A-Wish Foundation.

"It's a great thing to do with kids because it focuses on the child," she said. "It's something enjoyable to them in the time of needles and treatments."

She'll be involved in the Third Annual "Walk for Wishes" 5K Walk on Sunday, beginning at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks. Registration begins at 1 p.m., with the event beginning at 2 p.m. The event also is being held in Fargo, Bismarck, Minot and Williston.

To join, a $15 registration fee is required, but a $50 donation is encouraged from co-workers, relatives or friends.

"Walk for Wishes" is North Dakota's statewide annual fundraising event.

This year, the statewide goal is $50,000. If this goal is reached, 10 wishes - at $5,000 a wish - will be granted across the state.

Although there is no competition, Sandy Swanson said the North Dakota cities like to compete to see who can get the most volunteers at the "Walk for Wishes."

Since 1985, North Dakota has been part of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. So far, the North Dakota chapter has granted 450 wishes, with a record 34 last year. Currently 29 children across the state are waiting or discovering a wish.

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As part of the board, Sandy helps oversee the foundation, which is dedicated to fundraising, as well volunteer recruiting and education.

For information, call (701) 280-9474 or visit the Web site at www.ndwish.org .

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