MEREDITH — Spending 44 hours straight on an open raft in the middle of Lake Winnipesaukee is not something that Jason Tremblay recommends as a recreational activity.
But Tremblay, director of philanthropy for Make-A-Wish New Hampshire, said seeing the happiness in the smile of Salina, a 15-year-old from Georgia with a life-threatening illness, was worth it. Tremblay was joined by Jason Perry, director of sales and marketing for Manchester’s Verizon Wireless Arena, on one 45-person raft from 6 p.m. Wednesday until Friday at 2 p.m., when they came ashore.
They were rafting as part of this year’s 3rd “Rafting for Wishes,” a fundraising event for Make-A-Wish kids, helping to grant wishes for children with life-threatening medical conditions.
Eight other rafts with 15-member teams surrounded Tremblay and Perry. Each team member was asked to raise $300 toward the event’s $44,000 goal, or $1,000 for each of the state’s “Wish Kids.” The goal was reached, Tremblay said.
Among the teams were members of the New Hampshire State Police, the Nashua Fire Department, The Common Man restaurants, Mill Falls at the Lake, Merrimack Police Department, The Fitness Edge and The Floating Logs.
Tremblay said the nights on the rafts were trying at times, but boaters came by and wished them well, which helped.
“People were even driving up in boats to make donations,” he said. “It was amazing to see the whole New Hampshire community come together like that.”
As the rafters came to shore Friday afternoon, Salina was waiting with a friend as a state Marine Patrol boat arrived, flashing its lights and sounding its horns. She was taken by boat to Marine Patrol headquarters in Gilford, a short drive from the Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion at Meadowbrook.
There, she got her wish, meeting members of the group Rascal Flatts before their performance Friday night.
“Very often, these wishes are life-changing experiences; it gives them a pivot point from which they can look beyond their illness,” Tremblay said.