By Lindsay Eckert
Tribune staff writer
It’s a frigid feeling that sends chills to your core if you’re forced to walk outside during an Indiana winter. But for some people, it’s a way of life and a permanent chill sets in as their struggle to stay warm and walk to work and the grocery.
Sally Ripley, Kokomo Rescue Mission director of development, said the annual walk — now in its 12th year — started small and grew to an event she is thankful to see.
“A group of people came up with the thought of walking outside in the winter and what it’d be like to either not have a place to stay or not have transportation,” Ripley said. “They picked winter so people would have the understanding of what the extremes would be like, I could’ve never envisioned it’d get to place where it is right now for Kokomo Rescue Mission and Open Arms Shelter.”
Ripley said the event’s growth has been a bonus, but she said its families wanting to truly understand — not just participate — the challenges and chilling difficulties people face in their daily lives is what makes her most proud of the event.
“It’s amazing to watch people and see how excited they are to participate in the event,” Ripley said. “It’s my second year in the event, so it’s kind of a new thing for me but last year we had a fairly mild winter and people were thinking we were going to have a warmer weather day for the event. It ended up being cold and people were like good this is how it’s supposed to be. People want to experience that and they are very blessed and see how very easy it is to take warmth for granted. It’s a great human interest we all share.”
Ripley said this year’s event is striving to reach the goal of raising $120,000, but Ripley said seeing the unity among the community that is the best way to raise spirits.
“The best part of it is seeing people enjoy the event and get a group of friends together,” Ripley said. “Cousins and families walk together do some good, there’s camaraderie and a lot of people — once they walk the first time or two — start personalizing and asking themselves, ‘What if it was me and I did not have a place to stay or I had to walk everywhere?” More than anything, it’s about finding out that warmth is a blessing and secondary is helping raise money for the community.”
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