The day began with a free breakfast, and the walk kicked off at 9:30 a.m. Participants also released balloons to remember lost loved ones.
Swan the golden retriever and unofficial mascot for the Hospice Center walked around and the kids seemed to enjoy meeting and petting her. After participants returned they were treated to a free lunch by Subway Restaurant, Life Ambulance, Able Ambulance, OSCO and Southern Ohio Medical Center.
The hikers were encouraged to ask friends to sponsor an amount per kilometer walked or give a flat donation. Teresa Ruby, director of SOMC hospice, said previous hikes have raised more than $30,000, with 400 to 500 people participating.
"Our program serves people in our community regardless of their ability to pay,” Ruby said. “The money generated from events like these goes into a fund to help cover the needs of patients and families."
Sheila Riggs, a coordinator at the event, said about 500 to 600 people participated Saturday.
"If it weren't for the community our Hospice Center would have never been built," Riggs said.
Hikers and supporters were also eligible for prizes ranging in the categories of largest team, largest family, youth group with most participants, and best team T-shirt.
For some participants the hike was a little more personal. Having had a family member cared for at hospice this was in some ways a memorial event. Many teams had T-shirts with the family members' picture or name that acknowledged they were hiking for them.
KARA THOMPSON is a student at Portsmouth West High School. She can be reached at email@example.com.