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‘He’s a shining light’: Volunteer raises $250K for Make-A-Wish

Posted at 10:24 AM, Jul 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-26 19:25:57-04

BERRIEN COUNTY, Mich. -- This weekend, 76-year-old Harry Miller will be completing his 30th Wish-A-Mile Bicycle Tour. The three-day, 300-mile ride raises funds and awareness for Make-A-Wish Michigan.

"It's just so fulfilling ... it keeps me young," Miller said. "It's all for the kids."

Miller, with his wife Sharon, have been on quite the ride, since deciding to answer a newspaper ad for MAW riders.

"Harry showed me the ad in the paper and said, 'let's see go see about this'. I said 'really? Do you think we can do that?'" Sharon recalled.

"We came and showed up and this lady kind of looked at us up and down, like 'we're looking for young people that do races and long weekends, are you sure you can do this? You're 46?' explained Harry. "And, that was 30 years ago and I'm still riding in it."

Sharon rode alongside him for the first 15 years and has now become a supporting volunteer along the way. Both still work together as "wish-granting" volunteers, helping kids with life-threatening conditions fulfill their wishes.

"We've sent them off to Japan, we've sent them off to Atlantis," said Harry. "It's just unbelievable what Make-A-Wish can put together and each wish is unique to that child."

Ashley Sanregret, the Communications and Outreach Director with Make-A-Wish Michigan, estimates the pair has granted roughly 75 wishes. Over his 30 years of taking part in the WAM ride, Harry has also raised more than $250,000 for MAW. The average cost of a wish is around $10,000, according to Sanregret.

"He's a shining light in our volunteer program," she told FOX 17. "It's a lot of money to grant wishes for kids that need it the most."

Harry admits he's no longer the fastest on the WAM ride each July, but he always finishes.

"We meet the families and we meet the children, and we see where the money goes and how it affects the families, and it just gets to your heart," he said. "How can you not be a part of it?"

As for how long Harry wants to continue riding, he told FOX 17 he's not ready to put the bike away anytime soon.

"My wife says you're going to be done now, it's your 30th anniversary? Well, I just got to raise the bar higher. I'll be up to $275,000 by the time this year is over ...  I just have to raise the bar and work on my next quarter of a million."

"Good Lord willing, get my bike over the saddle, do another 5-10 years...till the wheels fall off."

The 2019 Wish-A-Mile Bicycle Tour began in Traverse City Friday morning and wraps up Sunday in Plymouth, Michigan.

To learn more about Make-A-Wish Michigan, or to donate, clickhere.

As the FOX 17 and Lake Michigan Credit Union Pay it Forward Person of the Month, Miller is receiving a $300 prize.

Know someone who should be featured next month? Nominate them here.

Meet Donny Irving, our June Pay it Forward Person of the Month.