It’s important to take a step back every once and a while to appreciate and honor life. On Sunday, May 7th VNA Hospice NWI encouraged people to do exactly that when it held its 21st annual Stroll for Hospice.
Nearly 300 people, including over 20 teams, countless individuals and numerous dedicated volunteers, came out to remember the loved ones they have lost and honor their memory with a joyous celebration of life. People laughed, people smiled, and, most importantly, people had fun.
“We wanted to bring people who love and miss someone together to celebrate. It’s a way to remember someone you love and just smile,” said Development Director Maria Galka.
The theme of this year’s event was live, laugh, and lemonade. The sun shone brightly as families had a blast dressing in lemon-themed attire and partaking in all kinds of activities. Kids had a great time getting their faces painted and burning off their energy in a bounce house while the adults enjoyed some competitive rounds of cornhole and took part in both a raffle and silent auction. In line with the event’s theme, there was plenty of lemonade for everyone to sip on.
After a few heartwarming words from VNA Hospice President and CEO Bob Franko, everyone set off on a 2.1-mile walk in honor of the loved ones they’ve lost. To wrap up the day’s activities, VNA Hospice held a cookout. People munched happily on hotdogs, hamburgers, and delicious homemade cookies that the 4-H Club made, all while making memories with their friends and family.
The day was ultimately the perfect way to encourage people who have experienced loss to take a moment and celebrate life. VNA Hospice touches over 600 lives every single day across the entirety of Northwest Indiana and strives to make people’s best days possible; VNA Hospice’s choice to put on an event that encouraged the community to embrace life and happiness was very fitting.
“In hospice, we spend a lot of time in sadness and grief, but today is a celebration. We can celebrate being together, we can celebrate life, we can celebrate all our volunteers, and it is a non-profit. We just have a lot to be grateful for,” said Franko.
One of VNA Hospice’s missions is to support families even after their loved ones have passed and help them realize that death is just a part of life--our loved ones are never truly gone.
“We want people to celebrate everything about life, and death is a part of that. Life goes on, though, and we all carry the memories and lessons of our loved ones who have passed. I have a tattoo on my arm to remember my dad and the lessons he taught me--he lives forever in me. People carry their loved ones the rest of their lives,” said Franko.
Attendees Vicki Snyder Chura and Cindy Laingren were walking in honor of their mother, who passed away last year from Alzheimer's. Toward the end of their mom’s life, the family used VNA Hospice’s services, and it was a blessing. VNA Hospice educated them about Alzheimer’s and helped them better understand how their mom’s Alzheimer’s would progress.
“VNA Hospice was just fabulous. They do such amazing things for patients, but they also do so much for families. It’s just such a wonderful service and I hope more people will come out and promote it and use it because it helps so much,” said Snyder Chura.
For the sisters, the day was an opportunity to celebrate and have fun together just the way their mom would have wanted them to. Snyder Chura and Laingren ultimately demonstrate how Stroll for Hospice allows families to celebrate and honor their loved ones. It’s okay to miss the ones you love, but it’s important to remember them joyously too.
“Today helps us reaffirm our dedication to our mom and her dedication to us. She was tremendous at putting on family gatherings and hosting and just being wonderful. All of this is just bringing back good memories,” said Laingren.
VNA Hospice’s 21st annual Stroll for Hospice ultimately couldn’t have been a bigger success. The VNA Hospice team and its wonderful volunteers can’t wait to see how the event continues to grow and benefit families in the future.
“I just love this. We have families that have been here since the very first Stroll for Hospice and they come back every year. We want everybody in the community to have the opportunity to come out and celebrate someone they love and miss and have a great day. It’s a wonderful way to remember,” said Galka.
To learn more about VNA Hospice NWI and all the wonderful events it holds to bring the community together, visit https://www.vnanwi.org/.