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Sep15 Annual walk to help St. Vincent de Paul Society
Thursday, September 15, 2011 by KATHLEEN JOHNSON
Courtesy of St. Vincent de Paul - Walkers make their way through Niagara Falls State Park as they participate in the St. Vincent de Paul walk.

In late September Goat Island will be busy with walkers who are not only thinking of their own health, but also the well-being of others. On Sept. 24 these dedicated walkers will convene for the Friends of the Poor walk, which benefits St. Vincent de Paul.

“One hundred percent of the donations goes to St. Vincent de Paul,” said coordinator Don Horey. “St. Vincent de Paul has many conferences that serve specific areas. When a walker comes in, you can pledge the money to any conference you want. Last year, the money was spread to 20 different conferences from our walk.”

If a walker does not designate a conference, then it stays with the main office in Buffalo.

“It’s the fourth year that the walk is being held nationally with over 160 different cities participating,” Horey said. “It is the second year in the Buffalo–Niagara Falls area. Last year we had 150 walkers earning $9,800.”

The gold sponsor of the event is the Maid of the Mist Corporation.

“The registration is a free will offering, and the average donation per walker last year was $50,” Horey said. “One walker raised $500 last year. Once you register you can email friends and ask if they want to pledge money to you for the walk. The local website takes you to the national website where you register.”

“The Divine Mercy Conference of St. Vincent de Paul will have a free picnic for the participants after the walk,” Horey said. “The distance around Goat Island is 1.2 miles. The picnic will be at the start and finish line which is at the entrance to Three Sisters Island.”

The idea to bring the Friends of the Poor Walk to the Buffalo-Niagara Falls area was conceived by Horey and the Divine Mercy Conference of St. Vincent de Paul. However, at the same time, the St. Vincent de Paul office on Main Street in Buffalo was also interested and working towards bringing the walk here.

“Finally we said, ‘Let’s do this together,’” Horey said.

Horey, from the Divine Mercy Conference, and Mike Mann from the Buffalo office are the unofficial walk directors.

The St. Vincent de Paul Society’s mission is to fulfill the two great Commandments – love of God and love of neighbor. The society seeks out God’s needy, both materially and spiritually.

Sometimes they can do little more than just listen and comfort. Sometimes they are able to help with a bag of donated food, or by assisting with the necessities of life.

Vincentians are also concerned with the needs of the aged, lonely, handicapped, permanently sick or housebound, and persons in convalescent nursing homes and hospitals.

The local website for Friends of the Poor Walk is wwwsvdpwnywalk.info and the national website is www.svdpusa.net/pledgathon/public/index.php.