PDT Staff Writer
Thousands carrying balloons, wearing team shirts, some pushing wheelchairs, some pushing strollers. It was the 27th Annual Hike for Hospice, which stepped off at 9:30 a.m. Saturday from SOMC Hospice.
“We have around 1,200 to 1,500 people,” Scott Hilbert, an SOMC Hospice employee and one of the event organizers, said. “This is our largest fundraiser. It’s a family event. And the greatest thing about it is, we are what we are because people support us.”
According to Teresa Ruby, Director of SOMC Hospice, participants of the hike raise funds by asking friends to sponsor an amount per kilometer walked or by giving an outright donation. Participants also can join in groups of three or more, presenting banners, shirts or other forms of team promotion.
“We ask people to come and make a personal donation, or collect money from other people in the community for donations. A lot of the people that come and participate are walking in remembrance of someone,” Ruby said.
Hilbert said the money raised is put to great use.
“Those funds are for some of the expenses our patients cannot cover,” he said. “We help them out with medical expenses sometimes, and a variety of different things that we help them out with. It’s really just to help our patients needs.”
Hike for Hospice also serves another purpose: Remembering loved ones and former Hospice patients who have passed on.
Wanda Walters’ family, wearing red shirts, were ready to walk. “These shirts are about our mother,” Harrietta Lucas said. “She died of Alzheimer’s. We’re raising money for Hospice. They took really good care of her there and everyone was wonderful to even all of us.”
Stacy Goodman was surrounded by friends and family, all adorned in blue shirts. “All in the Family,” as they called themselves, had raised $3,509.23 for Hospice.
“My grandparents both had Hospice. My boyfriend’s grandpa had Hospice and we have several others who have been in Hospice too. I think we have seven or eight people in our family that have had Hospice.”
One familiar face in the crowd was that of Dr. Suzann Bonzo.
“I haven’t missed one yet,” Bonzo said. “I do this because this is all part of Hospice. We started Hospice back in about 1984, and we started the hike a couple of years after that. This gives us a time where families can get together. Where we raise money for families who have special needs and it’s a good time of remembrance.”
Family and food is a thread that runs through the event.
“We focus a lot with our water and a healthier meal when you go through the food line,” Hilbert said. “It really does, it helps the family to do a family event to talk a 3.1 miles or a 5K, and to really get involved and to raise awareness of what Hospice is all about as well.”
Ruby said SOMC Hospice raised more than $35,000 from the 2012 hike fund raising event. There is no specific cost designated to participate, both donations are left to the participants discretion.
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at email@example.com. For breaking news, follow Frank on Twitter @FrankLewisPDT