Samuel Kocurek is raising money for Make A Wish Connecticut to not only help others but also make one of his own wishes a reality.

A freshman at the University of Connecticut, the Shelton resident recently joined the university’s Choose A Challenge club, which offers students the opportunity to take on once-in-a-lifetime adventures around the world while supporting local charities.

For the 2019-20 school year, the club is offering a climbing trip to Mt. Everest Base Camp in Nepal, a chance to run in the Edinburgh Marathon in Scotland, or climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. For Kocurek, a top performer with the Shelton High indoor and outdoor track and field teams, the choice was clear.

“Running a marathon was always on my bucket list, so going to Edinburgh would be a dream,” said Kocurek. “But my motivation to run that marathon is only strengthened by the chance to raise money for a good cause.”

Kocurek, as part of the club’s mission, needs to raise $3,000, with the funds going to the Connecticut chapter of the Make A Wish Foundation, with the club then sending him to Scotland for the chance of a lifetime.

“I am driven to help people,” said Kocurek, who spent time in high school volunteering at the St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Shop and Food Bank in Derby.

Make A Wish Connecticut has granted more than 3,000 wishes, which organization officials state offer proven physical and emotional benefits that can give children with critical illnesses a higher chance of survival. Last year alone, Make A Wish Connecticut granted 225 wishes, and Kocurek is happy to raise money to help fund yet another.

Kocurek learned firsthand about the benefits of Make A Wish. A friend of his in his dorm at UConn benefited from the foundation. While battling cancer, Kocurek’s friend was sent on a trip of a lifetime to New Zealand, thanks to Make A Wish.

“It was an incredible experience for him,” said Kocurek. “Hearing his story … having someone I know who has benefited from Make A Wish … definitely is a great motivator to raise this money and help others.”

Those looking to donate to Kocurek’s cause can visit https://igiving.com/fundraiser/samuel-kocurek# .

brian.gioiele@hearstmediact.com