Dozens upon dozens of families laced up their sneakers and hit the pavement Saturday for the 8th annual Walk For Wishes in San Diego, in support of the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
The event began bright and early at Embarcadero Marina Park South. All proceeds from the walk support granting wishes for children in San Diego with life-threatening medical conditions.
Nadine Bill, 7, and her parents and little sister, Kaylee, were among the families walking side-by-side.
“We’re helping my sister feel better,” Nadine told NBC 7.
The girls' mother, Marilyn Garcia, said Kaylee, now 6 years old, was diagnosed with leukemia at age 3. Through Make-A-Wish, the little girl's dream came true: to go to Disneyworld.
Kaylee is in remission now; Make-A-Wish continues to stay close to her family's heart, which is why they walked on Saturday.
"We want to give back," said Garcia, adding that she hopes other kids get their wishes granted just like her daughter.
On the route, NBC 7 also caught up with Stephanie Kozak and Wendy Woodburn, walking on behalf of AMN Healthcare to support Make-A-Wish.
Kozak said the energy of the event felt incredibly empowering. Woodburn agreed that the walk really puts things in perspective.
"When you see a lot of children walking with their families, with masks, it just really touches your heart and shows you the power of community and makes you just want to do everything you can," Woodburn told NBC 7. "You have to stay involved. You have to be part of a community. You can’t just sit idle.”
NBC 7's Monica Dean served as emcee of the event. She spoke with Layla, another Make-A-Wish child who recently had her wish granted: a trip to Hawaii.
Layla, 4, said her favorite part of visiting Hawaii was learning to swim and getting to meet Mickey Mouse.
"I kissed him a lot," Layla said.
Layla is suffering from an inoperable brain tumor that has not responded to chemotherapy. She is one of the wish Ambassadors and is investing time paying it forward. At the event, the little girl set up a lemonade stand to raise money for fellow Wish Kids.
"I hope they get their wishes," she added.
The event was followed by activities for kids, and a special visit from LEGOLAND and San Diego Star Wars Society characters. The Padres' Friar mascot was also there, giving out high-fives with the Padres pride team, the Pad Squad.
Since its inception in 1983, the San Diego chapter of Make-A-Wish has granted over 3,900 wishes to local children.