Ann Arbor team riding in 300-mile Make-A-Wish bike tour this weekend
A group of Ann Arbor-area women who call themselves Team Buttercup were part of more than 900 people who woke up early Saturday morning in Big Rapids to begin the second leg of their three-day, 300-mile bicycle journey from Traverse City to the Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn.
Their inspiration, also known as their Wish Hero, is 7-year-old Ella Dover who has a medical condition called subcortical band heterotopia. She was born with two cortices, which is extremely rare and causes developmental delays and treatment-resistant epilepsy.
Ella and her parents, Lisa and Brian Dover, will be at MIS Sunday to welcome back Team Buttercup with medals as they cross the finish line.
"It's such a celebration," said Yamasaki, the Team Buttercup captain who has participated in the previous three races. "This is just 300 miles for three days. Look at what these kids have to go through every day."
For Ella and her parents, the challenge is Ella's medical condition.
"Ella has seizures every single day of her life," said her mother, Lisa.
Ella received her wish in March of 2012 — a trip to Disney World. She and her parents stayed at a resort called Give Kids the World, where Make-A-Wish families stay during their weeklong vacation.
Franke said, "I am a health care administrator and know firsthand the struggles one can face in dealing with health issues, as well as what the caregivers go through physically and emotionally in caring for someone with life-changing illnesses. I want our team to cross into the MIS together to see the huge smile on our Wish Hero Ella's face and all of the wish heroes and their families and friends."
It was being at the finish line last year that inspired Fishman to participate in the ride this year.
"I got caught up in the energy of the event and was so moved by the efforts and compassion of the riders and the families and volunteers," said Fishman. "Ella is certainly an inspiration to me."
Team Buttercup's members are all friends, and many do a variety of volunteer work in the Ann Arbor community. They raised $15,000 for Make-A-Wish, some of it at a fundraiser at the Scio Township Culver's on Jackson Road June 26. Co-owner Karen Richard contributed a percentage of that day's earnings to the team whose members volunteered as servers that day.
Richard and co-owner Barb Smith learned that one of their employees was once a child granted a wish by the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
"You just never know what programs touch what people," said Smith, who is riding in her fifth 300-mile bike tour. "It is unbelievable how a group comes together for three days to cover 300 miles to raise funds for kids battling illnesses I cannot even pronounce."
"It's just a small thing we can do in a big, challenging world to make a difference in the lives of a few," said Fishman.
Leah Borst, communications manager for Make-A-Wish Michigan, said last year Make-A-Wish Michigan granted 368 wishes, including 15 for children from Washtenaw County.
"The Wish-A-Mile Bicycle Tour is the second largest Make-A-Wish fundraiser in the country and is our biggest contributor to raising funds for the wishes of Michigan children," said Borst.
"We couldn't be prouder to be part of something that will help bring a morale boost to families who have a child with a life-threatening illness," said Lisa Dover.