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August 17, 2019  |  

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Chuck Hill, an EMT by day and captain of the Clinton Volunteer Fire Department, doesn’t have a lot of spare time, but what little he has of it, he spends hiking with his dog Molly. Thanks to the generosity of his friends Dan and Wendy Lewis, who met Chuck at a rest stop along the trail with Molly, Chuck got to finish the Trailblaze Challenge alongside his usual hiking partner. Photo courtesy of Chuck Hill

Chuck Hill, an EMT by day and captain of the Clinton Volunteer Fire Department, doesn’t have a lot of spare time, but what little he has of it, he spends hiking with his dog Molly. Thanks to the generosity of his friends Dan and Wendy Lewis, who met Chuck at a rest stop along the trail with Molly, Chuck got to finish the Trailblaze Challenge alongside his usual hiking partner. (Photo courtesy of Chuck Hill )

Blazing a Trail for Make-a-Wish

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Chuck Hill loves to hike.

“My dog and I hike about 1,200 miles a year,” says Chuck.

His fellow members of the Clinton Volunteer Fire Department know that if Chuck’s not around, “I’m probably in the woods somewhere,” he says.

It’s only fitting that for the last two years, Chuck has found a way to turn his love of hiking into a way to help others.

On Sept. 8, Chuck participated in the Make-a-Wish Trailblaze Challenge conducted by the Connecticut chapter of the Make-a-Wish Foundation, which grants about 250 wishes a year to children facing life-threatening diseases. The Trailblaze Challenge is a 26-mile hike in New York’s Harriman State Park. The hike is not a race, but rather a chance for different individuals and teams to raise money.

This was Chuck’s second time participating in the event after finding out about it last year.

“I saw it online without knowing much about it,” Chuck says. “I did it mainly for the physical challenge.”

The entire hike took about 10 ½ hours. Last year, Chuck raised close to $4,600, and is approaching that much this year as well.

“Between two hikes we’ve raised about $9,000.

For Chuck, a coincidental encounter helped put the work Make-a-Wish does in perspective. As Chuck signed up for the hike, through a chance conversation with a co-worker he found out that Make-a-Wish was granting a wish to the coworker’s son.

“What they did for his family was amazing,” Chuck says.

Chuck says that the child passed away after the wish was granted, but he was able to witness the “spark of joy” that the experience gave the child.

“I really believe in what Make-a-Wish does,” Chuck says.

Chuck says having seen a close-up example of the effect that the foundation’s work has on people has helped inspire him to continue to be involved in the event.

To raise funds, he’s asked for donations on social media and made more direct requests to friends. Chuck says that while the volunteer fire department as an organization cannot donate to his hike, the individual people in the department were “very generous” to his cause.

The First Church of Christ in Clinton also had numerous members donate to Chuck’s hike.

“I have very generous friends,” Chuck says.

Families in Clinton might know Chuck through his longtime service as a scout master in town. While he was a scout master for several years, Chuck says he is “quietly involved now.”

Chuck himself wasn’t a scout, but says he became involved when his son joined the organization.

“I absolutely loved it. I loved watching kids become men,” Chuck says, proudly adding, “I’ve got eight or nine kids that became eagle scouts.”

For work, Chuck works as an EMT, which he says he enjoys.

“You do get to help people,” Chuck says.

Additionally, Chuck is a captain with the Clinton Volunteer Fire Department. Volunteering is something Chuck says came to him after he got out of the Navy, in which he served for four years.

Chuck grew up in Guilford, but has lived in Clinton for close to three decades. After leaving the Navy, he went to school in Maine, where he met his wife Lorraine, who was from Clinton. Chuck has two kids, C.J. and Jenny.

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