DETROIT (WXYZ - In a few weeks, a massive cycling event will take place across the state, celebrating 30 years of fundraising for the Make A Wish Foundation of Michigan.
For one cycling team in particular, this is a milestone year as they encroach the $4 million mark.
They call themselves Team Alex.
For the past 19 years they've topped the charts at the Make A Wish Foundation of Michigan, raising millions of dollars to grant the wishes for children going through life-threatening medical conditions.
"Team Alex riders have raised enough money to grant over 450 wishes,” explained Team Alex Captain Beth Brandvain.
Their dedication to the ride all began in 1999 with one teenager's selfless wish.
In 1998 16-year-old Alex Graham was diagnosed with bone cancer. She fought hard, but in less than a year the high school track athlete's appearance changed dramatically.
After 22 chemo treatments she lost her hair and a leg.
Instead of a trip to Disney World or a shopping spree wish, Alex wanted to use her wish from the Make A Wish Foundation to send a message, to save other children from the stares and comments of strangers.
"She said I want to do a public service announcement telling people how to treat kids and adults with disabilities or who have cancer,” said Susie Graham, Alex’s mother.
The Make A Wish Foundation helped Alex put together a public service announcement that aired across the country in 1999.
"We've had enough hurt in our lives already, the next time you see a kid with cancer or even someone who looks a little different, try a smile, we could use it,” said Alex during the PSA.
Susie Graham was there as Alex gave her stamp of approval on the final version of the PSA from her hospital bed.
"She had an oxygen mask on, she pulls her oxygen mask down and says after she saw it, 'It's perfect,' and I think the next day after she saw it, she died."
Family friend Beth Brandvain decided to give back to The Make A Wish Foundation by riding in their annual cycle event, a grueling three-day, 300 mile trek across Michigan called Wish A Mile.
"I said something to my husband about next year, and he said 'next year? You're so tired how could you do it again?' I said 'Oh no we're going to do this for a really long time."
Since that first ride in 1999, Team Alex has never missed a year, with Brandvain always at the helm, “Our team today is bigger than the whole ride was when we started in 1999."
Team Alex exploded from 14 to now more than 130 cyclists.
"The fact is they might start because they like to bike, but they get the message very soon after that,” said Graham.
Alex's one wish has now snowballed into an annual event for this team, granting hundreds of other wishes to the children of Michigan.
Thanks to the cyclists of Team Alex, the Make A Wish Foundation of Michigan’s annual 300-mile bike ride is their largest fundraiser of the year.