More than 200 people, warily watching the skies, joined the VNA of NWI at Central Park Plaza in downtown Valparaiso on Sunday, May 1st, to walk in memory of loved ones at the 15th annual VNA Stroll for Hospice. “With the rain we had on Saturday, everyone was a little nervous about Sunday’s weather,” said Maria Galka, Director of Development of the VNA. “But, the rain held off and we had a wonderful turnout.”
Thanks to Presenting Sponsor, George Uzelac & Associates, the VNA was able to move the walk to Central Park Plaza a few years ago. Along with the move came added family fun, including a bounce house, kids’ activities and crafts, and a DJ. This year, more than $25,000 was raised to help provide hospice care throughout our 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.” O’Heir also invited veterans to the front of the crowd to be honored for their service and lead the stroll.
Families joined together as teams, competing for the top prizes by raising pledges to support their stroll. For the 14th year in a row, the Oestreich family has won the award for raising the most in pledges. This year’s largest team was Team CSI in Valparaiso, with 35 registered participants.
Along the first leg of the route, strollers were greeted by Tom and Lisa Noak with some of their 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. Special thanks to our top sponsors: George Uzelac & Associates; Porter Regional Hospital; Indiana Beverage; Prompt Ambulance; First Merchants Bank; Golden Tech; Martin Securities; and, Fairmeadows Home Health Center.