PHOTO: At the Walk on for Hope, from left, are Hudson the Dog, Spencer Ochs, walk co-chair; Travis Ochs, Steven Ochs, Maria Link, Henry Link (back row), Alyson Gucciardo (back row), Good Shepherd Hospice, Amy Insana, Smithtown High School East, Krista MacPherson (back row), Smithtown High School East, Roger Sullivan (back row), Good Shepherd Hospice, Gabby Link, walk co-chair
On Sunday, November 3, over 200 community members gathered in a parking lot on Belle Terre Road to support Good Shepherd Hospice’s second annual Walk on for Hope. Families, friends, schoolmates, and strangers young and old came together to walk the village streets of Port Jefferson and Belle Terre in support of Good Shepherd Hospice and in memory of their lost loved ones.
When Spencer Ochs (16) lost his mother, and Gabby Link (16) lost her sister, both were touched by the services hospice offers. “No one is ever ready to lose someone they care about, but going through this as a kid… words can’t even describe how terrifying and upsetting it was,” said Spencer. These feelings led both Spencer and Gabby to look for a way to ensure that no child ever has to experience death and grief alone. And so Walk On For Hope developed.
As walkers gathered for the start, the poignant words of Spencer and Gabby’s stories resonated throughout the cold quiet of the morning. “We are really happy to be able to support Good Shepherd’s Child Life Program for the second year in a row. Having both experienced loss and receiving counseling from Hospice, it means a lot to us that everyone came out here today. This event gives us the opportunity to give back to other kids who have lost someone they love.”
All proceeds from the walk benefit the Child Life Program at Good Shepherd. An extension of the bereavement department, Child Life specialists use their knowledge of child development to educate, prepare, and support children through difficult times with the use of art therapy, play therapy, and other age-appropriate activities.
Spencer, Gabby and the team at Good Shepherd Hospice hope this event will spread the word through the Long Island community, ensuring that “Whether an adult, or another kid experiencing something similar, there will always be someone there to help… Walk On For Hope.”