Make-A-Wish’s ‘Team Tiny Feet’ with the biggest hearts

Published 9:34 am Monday, February 13, 2023

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By Elisabeth Altamirano-Smith | Community Columnist

Each year, hikers from across the state come to the Pinhoti Trail to participate in Make-A-Wish’s Trailblazer Challenge. Participants train over the course of 12 weeks to hike 26.3 miles. Participants pledge to hike the 26.3 miles while fundraising for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. In 2022 alone, Make-A-Wish granted 15,000 once-in-a-lifetime wishes to children that have critical diseases. This year, the among Chilton County participants hiking will be  Sofia Thomas (age 5), Abby Mae Bazzel (age 6) and Emma Hadder (age 7) also known as Team Tiny Feet.

Several people in Sofia’s family have a history of participating in the annual event, and when she heard about the challenge, she wanted to participate, too.

“Both of Sofia’s grandmothers are hiking the trail,” said Sofia’s mother Anna Thomas. “Sofia volunteered at last year’s event and helped at the finish line, handing out lanyards. This year, she wanted to hike. For Christmas, she got hiking gear and has been practicing.”

Team Tiny Feet will participate in the Junior League of the Trailblazer Challenge and will collectively walk 8 miles at the Oak Mountain Trailblazer location on April 15.

“I want to raise money so that I can be some kids’ fairy godmother,” said Junior Trailblazer Sofia Thomas. “If all of us who are going hiking can raise enough money, then the Make-A-Wish people can snap their fingers and a sick kid and their family can go to Disney world and meet Pluto…or Mickey…or Ariel…or ride Slinky Dog!”

“I love crossing creeks and climbing rocks and knowing that we are helping families with sick kids have a happy time,” said Junior Trailblazer Emma Hadder”

The adult league that they are partnering with, Team Happy Feet, is one of the largest groups participating in the Alabama Trailblazer Challenge. Participants include Sofia’s mother, Anna, grandmother Vanda Davenport, grandmother Golda Thomas, aunt (and Abby Mae’s mother) Jana Bazzell, and friends: Brianna Cowart, LeeAnn Ellison, Keith Ellison, Michele Watkins, Martie Mims, Michael and Desiree Bailey.

Everyone among the team’s participants is inspired and the children’s initiative.

“I want to help make a sick kid’s wish come true and like being out in the woods with my cousins,” said Junior Trailblazer Abby Mae Bazzel.

Both teams’ collective fundraising goal is $27,000, with Team Tiny Feet contributing $2,000 of that total.

For more information or to donate please contact Anna Thomas at or got to the Make-A-Wish website and search for “Happy Feet” under “teams.”