Danny’s Walk Enters Its Fifth Year
By John P. Evans III
Now entering its fifth year, Danny’s Walk for Wishes has evolved from a fledgling “pay back” fundraiser into an annual event that has turned into a community-based one-of-its-kind annual event on the Eastern Shore.
Danny Lockhart, a Ridgely resident who received a Make-A-Wish gift as a teenager in 2012, has continued his support of the national charity – an event that has raised more than $27,000 – and this year has added a 5k-run to its May 7 lineup at Martin Sutton Park in Ridgely.
This year’s event runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and includes all that last year’s event did, plus the 5k race.
“We have had a lot of questions about why we didn’t add a 5k run, so this year we decided to give it a try,” said Lockhart, who, as a teenager, was left with a serious injury that left his spine separated from his neck as the result of an operation gone wrong to cure his scoliosis (abnormal curvature of the spine).
It is a condition he still suffers from, though his mother Ginger said he rarely complains. “Physically, he still has to be careful. He never, ever complains, even when he is in great pain, he never complains,” said Ginger Lockhart.
As a result of his serious injury, Danny was granted a wish from the Make-a-Wish Foundation to be a Deejay for a Day on a local radio station. He was so moved and thankful for his wish that he decided to hold a Walk-a-Thon as his way of saying thanks.
Now, five years later, he is still holding the event. And as indicated earlier, it gets a little bigger each year. After being held at North Caroline High School its first two years, it was moved to Martin Sutton Park.
“It’s been my way of showing my thanks for the wish they granted me and to help make it possible to grant wishes for others,” said Lockhart, who continues to pursue his career goal of becoming a radio announcer or engineer.
Last year, Danny’s Walk for Wishes raised $7.000, just short of the annual goal of $7,500 – the amount it is estimated that it costs to make a child’s dream come true.
Since Danny’s Walk is the only event of its kind on the Eastern Shore which supports the Mid-Atlantic chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, he said he still feels the need to make sure that an event like his remains.
“There are a number of kids from the Eastern Shore that I personally know of who have had a wish granted through Make-A-Wish,” said Danny. “Knowing the money raised goes directly to someone who can have a wish granted, keeps me going. Keeps me wanting to do it again every year.”
Ginger Lockhart said she is proud that each year when she and her husband ask Danny if he wishes to have the Walk again, he says yes. “We were actually ready to ask if he was wanting to stop doing it, it’s a lot of work, especially with all the vendors. But he keeps saying he wants to keep it going,” said Ginger. “And now he has added a 5K run.” “I want to keep giving to Make-A-Wish,” added Danny, when asked why he keeps the event going.
So far, kids from Greensboro, Denton, Church Hill, Preston and Ridgely have been granted Make-A-Wish wishes.
“There are 400 kids in Maryland on the waiting list and as much money as we raise, it is only enough to grant one wish,” added Ginger.
Though it was his idea originally, Danny is quick not to take all the credit for his event being so successful. “I have had so much community support, especially from the town of Ridgely and a lot of the businesses,” he said. “An event this size certainly couldn’t happen without the support of the community.
In addition to his parents, Ginger and Daniel Lockhart, Danny said there is a list of supporters he has to publicly thank – the town of Ridgely, the county commissioners, Sue Fleegle, Brenda Walls, Beth McCullough, John Buckle, Tom Ober, Tammy Taylor “and many others who have volunteered.”
Danny said McCullough stepped forward this year to organize the 5k run. “It’s another way to make the event bigger and another way to raise more money (through pledges),” he said.
As in the past, the run and walk events will be supported by music and the presence of vendors, each one paying a fee to set up on the grounds.
This year, the group Apex Revolution will provide the live music. Danny said he is also trying to get another band to appear. The Tuckahoe Treasures Alpaca Farm will also have some of its animals on hand.
Most of the money is raised by the runners and walkers, who get sponsors; as well as online pledges – which were down last year.
“Last year, there were more participants in the event than ever before, though they didn’t raise as much money as they had the year before,” said Ginger, who said more online pledges and a single donation of $1,800 helped raise $7,700 in 2014. Nevertheless, the support the event receives continues to wow Danny.
“It continues to surprise me how successful this event continues to be,” he said. “It started out just a local thing we put together. I never thought it would be this big.”
Personally, Danny said he still has the dream to become a radio announcer one day – an itch that started with his Make-A-Wish dream. “He wants a job in the radio industry more than anything else,” said Ginger. “It took him two years just to be well enough to get his wish. He’d like to be able to show all those people (with disabilities) that ‘yes, you can do this.
“He wants to do something positive with his life,” she added. Danny need not worry about “doing something positive.” His experiences with his own Walk for Wishes suggest that he has already done that remarkable something for others. “This is his way of giving back,” Ginger added.
Those wishing to make online pledges or to sign up for the event, can do so by going to his facebook page, the event’s website at Danny’s Walk for Wishes, or by calling Ginger’s cellphone at 410-829-1568.