Today marked the 14th annual VNA Stroll for Hospice. The event took place at Central Park Plaza. The sun was shining, the air was warm and all in attendance seemed to be enjoying the perfect weather for the VNA’s special day.
To see more photos from the event, please click here!
The Stroll for Hospice was created to have an event that brought people and families together to cherish, remember and support the hospice program. The event was open to anyone who had either lost a loved one or had received any kind of assistance from the VNA.
While the main event was a 2 mile leisurely paced walk for people of all ages, many other events were present including children’s attractions, hot dogs and hamburgers on the grill, Culver’s Frozen Custard and live performances by the VNA Hospice Choir and a live DJ.
“The event has been annual since 2002,” said VNA Director of Development and Community Relations Maria Galka. “It was actually part of our capital campaign to raise funds for the building of the hospice center.”
The initial campaign to raise funds became very successful on its own and ended up becoming one of the main staples of what the VNA does every year.
“It’s something that we have continued since it received such positive attention and the general consensus from family members was that they loved the event,” said Galka.
The event was put together and staffed by a wide selection of volunteers that not only came from the VNA or hospice center, but from all throughout the community as well.
“We have a lot of volunteers here. A lot of hospice volunteers, a lot of community and family members are helping as well. In fact community members make up the majority of volunteers.” said President and CEO of the VNA Rick Rhew.
One of the major sponsors of the event was Uzelac & Associates, property tax associates located in Valparaiso. George Uzelac, a founder of Uzelac & Associates was present at the event and had a very strong reason to give The Stroll for Hospice his support.
“My mother as a result of a massive stroke was in the hospice and they took such fantastic care of her,” said Uzelac. “I just simply had to give back. They deserved my support.”
Uzelac along with Rhew and Galka also commented on how he felt the strong turnout for this event helped to spread their message to everyone in the community.
“They’re for the hospice and they’re here to remember the memory of the ones who left them, and everyone will be able to see that,” said Uzelac.
“It’s been incredible to see this event grow and see the families come back every year and walk with others to remember and share the memories with others,” said Rhew.
“People will often go around and try to gain supporters and volunteers to help out and by doing so, they’re not only spreading their stories of loved ones, but spreading the good words and stories about hospice and the VNA as well,” said Galka. “That is how we get more people to learn about us and in return, help out even more families.
While the 2015 VNA Stroll for Hospice may have ended, both families and volunteers are looking forward to next year’s event.
“The families always enjoy themselves, they always come back and tell us how nice this event was and most of the families will be back next year,” says Rhew. “The more you get people involved, the more you can grow it and enhance what you do and that’s something we’re always looking forward to in the future. “