Supporters of Hope Hospice are set to return to the trails at Del Valle Regional Park this May for the 2023 Hike for Hope fundraising event that the nonprofit first kicked off more than a decade ago.
Registration is currently open for this year's Hike for Hope, with organizers encouraging attendees to register by March 31 to guarantee an event t-shirt. They are also seeking to connect with potential vendors by March 31. The hike is set for May 6 starting at 8:30 a.m. with easy or moderate options, followed by a free barbecue for hikers that afternoon.
"The East Shore Trail is a mostly flat out-and-back option that's a total 2.6 miles, or shorter if one turns around sooner," said Kendra Strey, communications director for Hope Hospice. "More advanced hikers can tack on a scenic loop via the Hetch Hetchy and Ridgeline trails for a payoff view after a 500-foot incline, for a total 4.4 miles."
This year's hike at the regional park in Livermore comes on the heels of a record-breaking event last year, which saw 1,300 registrants and $180,000 in funds raised for Hope Hospice programs and services, according to Strey.
"The event has definitely evolved over the years, and we try to build upon what's working and look for areas where we can improve the experience," Strey said. "Last year, we were surprised by the high attendance. It was a good problem to have, but we saw some ways to make things go more smoothly for the attendees."
Some adjustments include changes to the site layout during the afternoon barbecue, and adding lawn games, which proved to be popular at last year's event, Strey said. Encouraging early registration and pickup for event t-shirts ahead of the hike was also a crucial step amid last year's high attendance that is returning this year.
"This reduces the line on the morning of the event for people who need to retrieve their shirts," Strey said. "Registration remains open through event day (including on-site signups), but we only order a limited quantity of t-shirts after that March 31 cutoff, and they're available on a first come, first served basis."
With organizers anticipating high attendance again this year, Strey said that there were a number of factors that could be contributing to the hike's popularity.
"People participate for different reasons," Strey said. "For some, it's a memorial event where family members reunite and hike in remembrance of a loved one who has passed. A majority of participants return annually because they support our mission and find the event to be an enjoyable way to give back to their community."
Funds raised from the hike are crucial for maintaining a range of services at Hope Hospice, Strey said, in particular by enabling the end-of-life support organization to continue offering grief support and family caregiver programs to the community free of charge.
"That's a cause that a lot of people can get behind -- it's money raised by this community, for this community," Strey said.
"We find that a lot of client families are surprised at the abundance and quality of supportive programming that complements our hospice service," she added. "It's not something you find with many other providers. We're able to offer these because of support from donations and fundraisers like H4H."
In addition to relying on fundraising support and donations as a nonprofit organization, Strey noted that volunteer workers are critical for the cause, particularly for organizing large events such as the upcoming hike.
"We couldn't do this event without our wonderful volunteers," Strey said. "A majority of them are our regular hospice volunteers who sign on to help with extra projects like this. But some people hear about the need and sign on just for the single event. About 60 people make the event work, from the setup crew and t-shirt organizers to the trail safety team and those who help us acquire donations for our silent auction."
Registration and more information for prospective hikers, volunteers and vendors is available at thehikeforhope.com.