Under bright blue skies, nearly 350 people joined the Visiting Nurse Association of NWI at Central Park Plaza in downtown Valparaiso on Sunday, May 6th, to walk in memory of loved ones at the 17th annual VNA Stroll for Hospice. Nearly $20,000 was raised to support VNA Hospice care in the community.
Prior to the kickoff of the walk, VNA President and CEO Ann O’Heir welcomed the crowd. “Thanks to the generosity of so many, the VNA remains a vital support system in our community, providing hospice care and services such as VNA Meals on Wheels and grief support for children at the VNA Phoenix Center.”
May 6th marked National Nurses Day and O’Heir invited active and retired nurses to the front of the crowd to be recognized and honored. “Today, we celebrate National Nurses Day and our very own VNA Hospice Nurses and ALL the nurses who are present here today and around the world. Thank you for your tireless efforts, hard work and compassionate care you’ve given to help your patients and their families,” said O’Heir.
O’Heir also invited veterans to the front to be honored, which included the VNA Hospice Choir singing “America the Beautiful” in gratitude for their service.
Families joined together as teams, competing for the top prizes by raising pledges to support their stroll. Each winning team and individual received a commemorative Stroll for Hospice brick in appreciation of their efforts. This year, Team CSI rounded up the most sponsors of their walk and the Missing Mary Team raised the highest amount in sponsorships. Individuals receiving awards were Carol Koss, who raised the most money in memory of her husband Bill Koss, who was a VNA Hospice Volunteer, and David and Patricia Schreiber who had the most sponsors. This year’s largest team was Team Rick and Buzz, with 22 team members.
Check out the photos below - click to enlarge photos.
All those who collected pledges in support of their walk were entered in a drawing to be named the 2019 VNA Stroll for Hospice Grand Marshal and Jaime Perz of the Toni’s Troopers team was selected to lead the walkers next year.
Along the first leg of the route, strollers were greeted with the famous pretzel bites from Bens’ Pretzels. And, all along the route, strollers were able to see signs in memory of loved ones. Following the walk, strollers gathered for a picnic lunch, followed by Culver’s Custard, donated by Culver’s of Valparaiso. In addition, there were lots of family friendly activities, including a bounce house, face painting, games, and even a DJ to keep things hopping.
Special thanks to the 2018 VNA Stroll for Hospice top sponsors: Nipsco, Beta Gamma Pi, The McGuire Family, Wunder Fence & Garage, and Shive-Hattery.