By Meaghan O’Neal
The Laker/Lutz News Correspondent
The sixth annual Hike for Hospice brought more than 400 participants out to support Gulfside Regional Hospice at Rasmussen College in Land O’ Lakes Nov. 11, Veterans Day.
The theme of the event was honoring veterans, and many of those in attendance came out to run or walk in memory of their family members who have served in the armed forces.
Family members of veterans gave tribute to loved ones by either posting a note on a designated memory wall or pinning them to their shirts.
The event was also attended by several war veterans and soldiers currently serving in the military. The soldiers ran the 5-kilometter course dressed in there military fatigues.
Gus DePietto, a World War II veteran who served in the Army, remarked on the young soldiers saying, “It was special to stand with such strong and young men who have been overseas. It reminds me of myself when I went to war in the 1940s.”
DePietto has attended the hike for the past five years and said that “it means so much to know that there are events like this.”
The event also included skydivers flying in with the American flag.
Former Buccaneers fullback Mike Alstott, a partner and supporter of Gulfside, took part in the day’s activities.
“Everybody is out here in memory of their loved ones, and at the same time thank hospice for everything that they do,” said Alstott, who has been a part of the hike since it started. “I’m honored to be here.”
Linda Ward, president of Gulfside, was excited to be able to organize the event.
“All of these people have raised funds for hospice costs that aren’t covered by insurance,” Ward said. “We’re so thankful for their support. It’s a great day.”