By Eric Bourque
It began over four decades ago – a new fundraising event for the Victorian Order of Nurses – and although it has undergone some changes over the years, the tradition of walking in support of the VON carries on.
And so on Saturday, May 12, the local VON will hold its annual walkathon, the 42nd edition.
Registration is scheduled to start at 9 a.m. at the Marian Hall, part of the Saint Ambrose Parish Centre, and the event itself will get underway at 10.
Participants will cover a 6.5-kilometre course, the same layout as last year, says Derrick Babin of VON Tri-County.
The course goes from the Marian Hall down Albert Street to Main Street, then along Main as far as Hibernia, where it’s a left turn, down to Main Street and back towards Albert Street and the finish.
About 60 people took part in last year’s event and it was a comparable number in 2010.
There are some familiar faces year after year, along with some new ones, Babin notes.
“We have those same people that continuously walk for us,” he said. “Every year we (may) drop a couple and gain a couple, so it does kind of keep it constant, number-wise.”
Funds raised through the walkathon help the VON with its community support programs, including caregiver education and supports, adult day program, foot-care clinics and volunteer visiting.
About $11,000 was raised a year ago.
The event draws participants of just about all ages, Babin says, and while most of them will walk the course, there are now runners too.
“They kind of use it as part of their training,” he said, referring to the runners. “Some of them are training for different events and things.”
By taking part in the walkathon, the runners not only get in a workout but also help support the VON, making it a “win-win,” he said.
There are refreshments for participants after the event, “typically a barbecue,” Babin said. “We have a VON cake there too … We have some prizes for our walkers as well.”
As far as the weather is concerned, the plan is to proceed with the event if it’s just a light rain or drizzle. It could be a different story if conditions are severe, but “hopefully we won’t have to deal with any of that,” Babin said.
The top priority is safety, he said.