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Stroll raises funds, awareness for hospice

Valparaiso University student Kelly Retzlaff paints pig Mick Cooper’s head Sunday during 13th annual Stroll for Hospice held Valparaiso’s Central

Valparaiso University student Kelly Retzlaff paints a pig on Mick Cooper’s head Sunday during the 13th annual Stroll for Hospice, held at Valparaiso’s Central Park Plaza. Cooper, of Crown Point, walked in memory of his late brother-in-law.

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Updated: June 6, 2014 6:11AM



VALPARAISO — Elisa Angeles walked in memory of her uncle and her grandmother.

Both received care through the Visiting Nurse Association of Porter County’s hospice program. Angeles, a Chesterton native now living in South Bend, walked with friends whose lives also were touched by hospice.

“The support we can give them, in exchange for what they give us, it pales in comparison,” she said Sunday, shortly before the start of the 13th annual Stroll for Hospice, which began and ended at Central Park Plaza.

About 300 people took part in the walk, the most ever, said Maria Galka, the VNA’s vice president for fundraising and development.

This was the first year the event was held at the downtown park, which provided more space for a bounce house, face painting, a photo booth and other festivities.

“We tried to make it a family-friendly, community event, so people can come together and celebrate hospice,” Galka said.

Galka expected the 2.2-mile walk to raise $30,000, which is important because the VNA is a nonprofit.

The event, however, is more than just a fundraiser.

“The biggest role this plays is helping to make people more aware of hospice,” she said.

About a dozen members of the late Lydiaann Fritz’s family walked in her memory, all wearing green shirts. Most of the family lives in Hobart and Portage, and they said hospice was indispensable when Fritz died last year of cancer. Some family members continue to receive help from a support group through the agency.

“They helped us when we needed them,” said one of Fritz’s daughters, Sheryl Diedrich of Plymouth.

Cheryl Valeika’s husband, Sal, died more than two years ago, and she said hospice “was just wonderful,” allowing multiple visitors to see him at one time and even his dog.

“They didn’t care how much noise we made. They were just sweet,” the Valparaiso woman said, adding about 16 family and friends took part in the walk “to repay the favor. They were really good.”



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