Annual Walk and Remember 5K honors loved ones

EAST GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Hospice of Michigan held its 20th annual Walk and Remember Saturday morning in East Grand Rapids.

The event was held at East Grand Rapids Middle School to honor and celebrate loved ones who have passed away.

“They journey with these families in a very important and delicate time so to be able to come back in their lives and remain in touch with them is very important,” said Barbara Anderson with the Hospice of Michigan.

Among the dozens of people who participated was Jenny Baker. Baker participated in the walk for the second year in a row to honor her mother, Karen Baker, who passed away from liver cancer over a year ago.

Karen went through several months of intensive chemo treatment before deciding to start specialized care with the Hospice of Michigan.

“She had just been sick for the entire time and really it was conversations with her doctor and she said ‘I’ll go through my treatment, but then I think it’s time for hospice care. It’s scary and it was scary when I heard the words because I knew we were preparing for the end of my mom’s life at that moment,” said Jenny Baker.

Jenny said hospice care provided medical treatment and social work services.

“When my mom came home from the hospital after her last treatment, she had all the hospital beds and medical equipment there and everything we needed to be able to take care of her and then in-home care on a daily basis which really helps support us as a family who didn’t know what we needed to do for her,” said Jenny.

Jenny told 24 Hour News 8 that although hospice sounds scary, it provided her family with support, peace of mind and prepared them for the moment they would have to say goodbye.

“The last night she was alive, I spent with her and she was up all night. She was in pain so she wasn’t completely coherent with what was going on in the world and I actually went to work that morning and before I left, she told me she loved me. About an hour later, she passed away. She left this world knowing that I didn’t have any regrets. We had all of those conversations that we needed to have before she died,” Jenny said.

Jenny’s team for the walk was called “Walk by Faith for Karen,’ and included over a dozen people who wanted to honor her mother.

“She was wonderful. She was just a caretaker and so for us to have to take care of her was hard for her. She was just one of those people that would do anything for you, always positive, always found the bright side. She was my mom, but she was my best friend,” said Jenny.

Organizers of the walk said it helps them as a fundraiser to be able to care for all people who want to use hospice care.

The walk has risen over $2 million over the years, and this year, the nonprofit organization was hoping to raise about $135,000.

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