What does hiking along a trail in North Carolina and hearing people play bagpipes have in common? Most of the time, nothing.

Not so for Megan Lloyd, Lissa Brown, and Trace Dollar, who endured an arduous challenge along the Foothills Trail while volunteers cheered them on, providing them water and snacks, making sure they could continue hiking, and some even playing the famous Scottish instrument.

But the weekend of May 17, 2019, wasn’t about these three Wachter Warriors. Instead, it was dedicated to children diagnosed with a critical illness and the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Lloyd, Brown, and Dollar had committed to one of the foundation’s multiple annual Trailblaze Challenges. These three Wachter Warriors would join hundreds of hikers along 28.3 miles in the North Carolina wilderness along the Foothills Trail. In addition to committing to this challenge, Brown, Lloyd, and Dollar needed to raise money for this event — but had yet to determine how.

The Wachter Warriors Committee in Wachter’s Lowell, Ark. office thought through their ideas on how to raise money and decided to hold a Hat Day at work.

Before the Arduous Hike

On the morning of Friday, April 19, the Wachter Warriors Committee patiently waited for their coworkers to arrive to the Lowell office. Their excitement grew as they welcomed fellow employees — some donning their favorite cap on their heads. As their peers passed by, they reached into their purses, billfolds, and pockets to pull out what money they had on them, then place it into a hat. The committee had a mission that day: collect donations for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Lloyd, a veteran member of the Wachter Warriors committee for three years, said she and Brown prepared themselves for the most physical challenge they’ve encountered. Their extensive training regimen included already hiking more than 60 miles, doing cardio and strength training in the gym every day, and participating in spin class a few times a week.

“It was a lot more brutal than I had expected,” Lloyd recalled. “The terrain was pretty intense in areas and forced me to face some fears. Being around everyone though and getting to be a part of Make-A-Wish made it all worth it.”

Brown shared her motivation for enduring this challenge.

“It’s been explained to us that this Trailblaze Challenge can be compared to the challenges a critically ill child goes through — you have ups and downs, there are times you want to quit, there is a point you think you can’t make it,” Brown explained. “But you don’t stop and you don’t quit and you get to the end. I think this is what moves me the most.”

The support on Hat Day matched the level of dedication that Lloyd, Brown, and Dollar have put into this unique challenge.

“Most people in our office participated,” said Angie Gilbert, Rollout Administrative Support Manager and Wachter Warriors committee member. “A lot of employees would just walk up and hand us all the money in their pockets, and it ended up being a lot of fun.”

Hat Day + Hike = Formula for Success

From the April 19 Hat Day and Wachter contributions, the team raised a total of $5,734.24 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Each year the Make-A-Wish Foundation strives to grant the wish of every child diagnosed with a critical illness, and thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors help make that vision possible.

“It’s amazing to hear the stories of how one wish can truly change the lives of the children and their families,” Lloyd said.

The initiative that the Wachter Warriors Committee has taken is part of the overall success of Wachter as a whole, said Wachter Chairman Brad Botteron.

“One of the things we discussed in the 2019 Kickoff was the importance of serving the communities where we live and work,” Botteron said. “It’s exciting to see the Lowell office respond by incorporating an element of service and philanthropy into their picnics and other office activities. There is no better way to turn our personal mountains into molehills than by giving ourselves to a worthy cause.”

No matter the physical and financial effort exerted, these Wachter Warriors are grateful to have experienced this challenge. This was Dollar’s first time volunteering with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, but he said he was up for this challenge.

“I know that our efforts will help many young people that are dealing with unfortunate physical ailments,” Dollar said. “Having some part of bringing joy to these children and their families is a great reward.”

Members of the Wachter Warriors committee in Lowell include Angie Gilbert, Amey Ponce, Ashley McLemore, Lissa Brown, and Megan Lloyd. Enjoy pictures from both the Hat Day and the Make-A-Wish Foundation Trailblaze Challenge in North Carolina.