As they celebrated a major anniversary for the annual VON walkathon in Yarmouth – the event having reached the half-century mark – organizers paid tribute to the late Donald Outhouse, whose dedication to the event for decades was unmatched.
Indeed, given his commitment to the cause – Outhouse did the walk 44 straight years before he passed away this past March – this year’s event was named after him.
As she welcomed walkers Saturday morning to the Marian Hall (part of the St. Ambrose Parish Centre in Yarmouth) shortly before the event began, Sandra Hubbard-LeBlanc, program co-ordinator, community support services, VON Tri-County, said it was great to see people come out for the walkathon’s 50th edition.
“I do want to thank you for supporting the VON in this walk and especially for this year, where we’re remembering our wonderful Donald Outhouse,” Hubbard-LeBlanc said. “We can’t thank you enough.”
The pre-walk formalities included a relay in the Marian Hall, where people formed a circle and a “torch” was handed from person to person, eventually reaching Lorna Outhouse, Donald’s widow, who carried it with her during the walk as a symbol of her husband’s longtime dedication to the VON and the hope that others will carry the torch, so to speak, into the future.
Thirty-three people took part in this year’s walk, according to a sign-up sheet in the Marian Hall, and over $9,000 was raised for the VON's community support programs.
Afterwards, Donna LeBlanc, one of Donald and Lorna Outhouse’s daughters, reflected a bit on the event, saying it was wonderful to see the turnout and the amount raised. She acknowledged it also was an emotional day, given the tribute to her father.
“When we get emotional, we just think about why we’re here,” she said. “We’re glad for the VON and we’re glad for Dad. He would be really pleased.”
Her father also would have been pleased with the weather, as participants in Saturday’s event got to walk in sunshine on a calm, comfortable morning, quite a difference from Friday’s heavy rain (with more rain on the way for Sunday).
The subject of weather made LeBlanc smile, saying her father “was a huge weather aficionado. Every morning, he’d get up and announce what the temperature was and where the wind was coming from.”