Halfway through a pilgrimage, from the El Camino to Florida with love

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You may already be following Mike Fernandez’s journey as he embarks on 3 million steps to raise $3 million for Miami Children’s Hospital.  

His route takes him more than 500 miles across the Pyrenees, from St. Jean Pied de Port, France, through Spain to Santiago de Compostela — a mountainous pilgrimage known as The Way of St. James, or El Camino.

Fernandez’s walk is a debt of gratitude following the life-saving open-heart surgery of his 19-month old granddaughter Daniella earlier this year

And it is also a redefinition of what it means to give.  

In April, Fernandez was named “Florida’s newest billionaire” by Florida Trend, and he has long been an avid philanthropist. Fernandez estimates that he has donated more than $100 million to charities in South Florida — $5 million of which was to MCH for the creation of a new trauma center. 

“Writing a check is a lot easier than this,” Fernandez said of his walk in a Miami Herald interview. “But now I’m giving my time and that’s what’s most valuable to me at this point in my life.”

He set out on Sept. 20, joined for the first week by Cesar Alverez, chairman of Greenberg Traurig.

This week, Fernandez’ is passing through Burgos, Spain.  As of this morning, his fundraising ticker shows $1.23 million raised  — nearly his halfway point in dollars and miles walked.

Yet from following his path via Facebook, it seems that the spiritual intake of his days has already exceeded what Fernandez anticipated.  He writes of meeting exceptional fellow travelers, and what it has meant to share stories of the children at MCH.

Fernandez begins each morning at 4 a.m. with the daily mission to “think and pray for the children at Miami Children’s Hospital and for their speedy recovery.”

He stops at churches along the way and asks priests for guidance in prayer; he meditates on the bravery of the children at MCH, and spreads the message of the hospital’s “amazing doctors and nurses who care for our children every day.” 

This isn’t the first personal trial Fernandez has undergone.  He has survived two heart attacks, prostate cancer and back troubles. And he hikes on ankles that have each been broken when jumping out of planes in the Army.  Nevertheless, the 61-year old CEO feels lucky.

“I’ve always known how blessed we are, but I also know how incredibly difficult it is for people who don’t have the same resources,” Fernandez continued in the Herald story.

His pilgrimage is not just for his granddaughter but for all MCH families who endure the emotional and financial stresses of a child’s illness.

Join Fernandez in your own way by following his journey and lending support here.