GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A Grand Rapids woman will take on the Make-A-Wish Michigan Trailblaze Challenge Saturday in Manistee, hiking 21 miles.
“I feel ready, I dream about being ready. I’ve hiked a lot in my dreams,” said Sue Jandernoa.
Six other women, all in their 60s, will be hiking with Jandernoa as part of the Red Glasses Movement team.
“It is a challenge, that is for sure,” she said.
There will be an eighth member of this team, the girl they’re hiking in honor of: Jandernoa’s granddaughter, Audrey.
“We’ve always been inspired by her love of life,” said Jandernoa.
Audrey was born with Down syndrome and died in January because of a severe respiratory illness. She was 5 years old.
“She was a force to be reckoned with. She was full of life and knew no boundaries. She loved everyone and lived big,” Jandernoa said.
Besides being known for living big and loving life, Audrey was known for her red glasses. At her funeral, a family friend brought 1,000 pairs of red glasses for everyone to wear. Since then, they’ve ordered more – about 16,000 pairs – all with Audrey’s name on them.
Across the world, they’ve been spreading her message of “live boldly, love big and pass it on.”
“The Catholic Central choir sang in Italy this year and the Pope has a pair of red glasses,” recounted Jandernoa.
So far, the Red Glasses Movement team has raised more than $30,000 for Make-A-Wish Michigan, shattering their goal of $17,500.
“I just think what they do for children is something; (it) really sings Audrey’s message,” said Jandernoa.
It’s a message that’s now being passed along to other kids facing illness.
“In many ways it feels like Audrey is helping to grant these wishes; that also warms our hearts,” said Jandernoa.
If you would like to donate, visit the Red Glasses Movement team’s fundraising page for Make-A-Wish Michigan or the Trailblaze Challenge fundraising page.