Family, Friends Gather In Valparaiso’s Central Park to Remember Loved Ones for Annual VNA Stroll for Hospice

Family, Friends Gather In Valparaiso’s Central Park to Remember Loved Ones for Annual VNA Stroll for Hospice

Nearly everyone you meet has felt the pain of losing a loved one at some time in their lives. Sunday, the VNA of Northwest Indiana held their 17th annual Stroll for Hospice as both a way to remember and celebrate the memories of those lost loved ones, as well as a way to help the VNA continue their mission of helping families during their most difficult times.

Since 1970, the Visiting Nurses Association has provided hospice services in patients’ homes and assisted living facilities and also in their VNA Hospice Center. They also provide Meals On Wheels in Porter county, and Lifeline, a personal emergency response system, in addition to the VNA Phoenix Center, a grief support program for children who have lost someone they love.

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Maria Galka serves as Director of Development for the VNA.

“Each year, we invite people who have lost someone they love to come here and walk with us. They don’t need to have gone through hospice - everyone is welcome to come here and celebrate the life of someone they’ve lost. Again this year, we have activities for children... we have a bounce house, crafts, and face painting. We also have have a DJ here to provide entertainment throughout the day, a photo booth, and there will be a picnic after the walk,” Galka said.

“It’s not just a way to celebrate memories of loved ones, it’s a way for families to create new memories too.”

Participants in the stroll pay a $10 registration fee, and also raise funds for the VNA through pledges from family and friends. The VNA is a not-for-profit organization and relies on community support to continue its mission of providing the highest quality of compassionate care.

This year’s Stroll for Hospice gold-level sponsor was NIPSCO, with additional sponsorship from Beta Gamma Pi, the McGuire family, Shive Hattery Architecture, and Engineering and Wunder Co. Inc Fence and Garage.

The VNA is hoping to raise over $20,000 at the event.

“We have 220 participants who pre-registered, and we typically see another hundred or so, so we could see more than 300 teams walking here today,” Galka said.

Registration opened at noon, with the walk scheduled to kick off at 1pm, after a brief welcome and invocation.

This year’s event coincided with National Nurses Week and honored nurses and veterans as well.

Andy Moats serves as a volunteer and board member for VNA.

“I was touched by hospice when my grandmother went through hospice. Because of that, I decided to become involved with the VNA and made a local commitment to the hospice program here in Northwest Indiana,” Moats said.

Jonathan Hildebrand also serves on the board and volunteers.

“The aging process can be difficult. The VNA provides more than just hospice care, they offer several other programs that help the community. The VNA is one of the very few not-for-profit hospice organizations here in Northwest Indiana, and because of that, they can better focus on providing care to those in need,” Hildebrand said.

Jaime Perz of Valparaiso said that she and her family took part in this year’s Stroll for Hospice as a way to honor her mother, Toni Lynn Turley, who passed away last year.

“We thought this would be a very good way for us to come together as a family. Hospice was very good to my mother and this is a way for us to not only honor and remember her, but also to raise money for the VNA in recognition of all they have done to help our family,” Perz said as she wiped away a tear.

“We wanted to help support them so they can continue to offer these services.”

For more information about the VNA of NWI, visit them online at