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Hospice's popular 'Hike for Hope' set for Saturday

Noncompetitive walk gives participants chance to remember someone special

The second annual Hike for Hope is scheduled for Saturday, giving participants a chance to remember someone special during the walk while also benefiting Hope Hospice.

Chaired by former Pleasanton Parks and Community Services director Dolores Bengtson, the event attracted 735 hikers last year. Event organizers hope more than 1,000 will turn out for this year's walk.

Open to the public, Hike for Hope is a non-competitive, memorial hike along the trails of the Sunol Regional Wilderness. Hikers can start anytime between 8:30 and 9:30 a.m.

Participants walk in memory or honor of a loved one and in support of Hope Hospice, which provides families with comfort, dignity and excellence n their time of need.

The fee to participate is $25 ($35 after April 18) and hikers can invite their friends and co-workers to help sponsor their hike with pledges.

"I helped plan the memorial aspects of the event and felt it was important to offer something for the senses," said Kathy Molinari of Pleasanton, who participated in the event last year and plans to be back on April 30.

"My parents, who were both served by Hope Hospice, loved the outdoors," Molinari added. "They taught me about every wild flower known to man. So I suggested we incorporate seed scattering as part of Hike for Hope. It's a special connection to the promise of spring and new life. My whole family, including my grandkids and good friends take part."

Jean Sullivan has been attending the Tragic Loss group at the Hope Hospice Grief Support Center since last year. She lost her 37 year-old son unexpectedly about three years ago. Last year, to seek support for Hike for Hope, she wrote an article on her Facebook page about the hike and many responded, including her son's friends as well as her own.

She wasn't sure how she would actually feel on the day of the event, "but when I got there, everyone was so up and chatty, positive," she said.

Sullivan added: "The fact that I was on the trails with others who were hiking in memory of someone they had lost made me feel great. Such a feeling of camaraderie, like, 'We are all in this together to celebrate the life of someone special.' I felt so connected to my son. And the event doesn't take all day. It goes quickly and is so fulfilling."

Because the hike is an opportunity to remember a loved one, each hiker is encouraged to bring a photo of the individual for whom they will be hiking to place in a lanyard (provided by Hope Hospice) and wear around the neck. Hikers can choose from the (easy) two mile roundtrip Little Yosemite trek or combine it with the Canyon View Trail for a (moderate) three mile loop. The Yosemite trail is a popular destination for families with children who will be hiking with big wheel strollers and children in backpacks.

Joanie Fields will be hiking with her 'Class of '64' from Amador Valley High School. One of her classmates died three years ago and some of the group will be hiking in his memory.

"A lot of us were in school together from kindergarten through 12th grade and are native to the area," Fields said. "We plan to have a picnic after the hike so we can visit our friends, many of whom have lost someone special or have had a loved one in hospice care. It's a different way of touching someone. It awakens you to others. It's a meaningful way of giving back."

Stan Goldberg, author of "Lessons for the Living" and a hospice volunteer, will provide musical interludes from a Japanese bamboo flute. An East Bay Parks naturalist will be on-site to answer questions about the park and to distribute brochures on the various wildflowers in bloom as well as information on poison oak, ticks and snakes. Along the trail, hikers will receive a packet of flower seeds, approved by Sunol's botanist, to scatter as they walk or to use in their own garden at home.

Hope Hospice welcomes sponsorships from corporations and local businesses. Proceeds from the event will fund hospice care and our Grief Support Center, an open-to-the public resource for adults, teens, and children who are grieving the loss of a loved one.

For further information, visit the hike's website at www.thehikeforhope.com or call Pattie DiLauro at (925) 829-8770.

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