Tri-state walking fundraiser passes through Gulfport - - The News for South Mississippi

Tri-state walking fundraiser passes through Gulfport

A team of walkers "high-fives" each other during their 13.7 mile stretch. (Photo Source: WLOX) A team of walkers "high-fives" each other during their 13.7 mile stretch. (Photo Source: WLOX)

People walking for the third annual "Miles for Smiles" event passed through the Mississippi Gulf Coast on Monday. The event raises money to send people with disabilities in need of financial assistance to Camp Smile.

It’s a special needs camp in Mobile where the campers can have a week of fun like other kids do.

"To know that we helped send to help send one camper to camp who might not of had the opportunity for it makes me happy to know that they get the chance to be with friends and people like them and people who accept them when the world doesn’t," said Gabrielle Rivers, one of the walkers.

This year Jake Alvarez and his wife Matrisza, the camp director, reached out to people through social media hoping to get a few on board to walk in teams. The couple also searched for sponsors to donate money to cover the camp admission cost.

"The response was pretty quick. We had filled all of our teams up in three days. People just really wanted to be a part of something that benefited camp," said Alvarez.

Alvarez says they get support each year, meaning that more campers get their dreams fulfilled. "Over the first two years we've raised $25,000. So far this year we’re at $6,500 of our $10,000 goal and things are looking great,” added Alvarez.

Walking began on Saturday in Mobile and ends Wednesday in New Orleans. They’ve broken the 137 mile journey into 10 "13.7" mile stretches. One team walks in the morning and another in the afternoon.

"I think it makes a lot easier, it makes it a lot easier on everybody and it feels more like a team effort, like we’re all together and working for the same cause. It’s one big family together," Rivers said about walking in teams.

Among the many donors of the fundraiser was Gulfport Mayor Billy Hewes.

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