Monday, June 3

What I'm Doing on My Summer Vacation: Hope Hike

Ahhh, summer. Now that winter has finally passed, with summer comes the hope of regeneration, new life, and new adventures. And this summer, we want to be inspired. We know that people all around us are doing amazing things. And we want to hear about them - before they happen - so we have the option of becoming involved, too. That's why, each Monday this summer, The Ruth Experience will feature an interview with someone who is using their time, talent or treasure to do something amazing for others.

This week, we're featuring Hope Hike. It's near and dear to all of our hearts - it's the main event for a charity called Katie's Club, created in memory of Kendra and Kristin's sister Katrina Stigman, who was also a dear friend of Julie - so it seemed like a good way to begin. With that in mind, we interviewed Tim Demery, one of the event's organizers (and speaking of amazing-ness, he's also Kristin's super-awesome-and-totally-handsome hubby. Not that we're biased.).

What are you doing?

On Saturday, June 22, we're meeting at Elm Creek Park Reserve in Maple Grove, Minnesota, to participate in a charity hike.  
 

Who or what does the event benefit?

The hike benefits Place of Hope in St. Cloud, Minnesota, and Hope Academy in Minneapolis, Minnesota. All funds raised by hikers will be divided between these two organizations as a challenge match to their supporters. For many girls and women, these charities provide the warm meals, the chance to sleep in their own bed, freedom from drug abuse or physical abuse, or the chance to receive a quality education in a safe environment that they long to have.

How did your involvement in this event come about?

Tim and Kristin on a Colorado hike in 2008
Almost seven years ago, I was invited to a hike out in Colorado called the "Climb for Katrina."  It was a charity hike to raise money for a foundation called Katie's Club, which planned to give girls and young women opportunties in Christian environments that they otherwise wouldn't have the ability to participate in.  Katrina Stigman (the "Katie" in Katie's Club) had passed away that previous fall after a 5-year battle with breast cancer. On the hike I met my future wife, Kristin, who happened to be Katrina's youngest sister. We had a hike team raise money in Colorado for five years, then moved it to Minnesota. Two years ago, we started the Hope Hike with the idea that we would raise money directly for a handful of charities. Last year we narrowed the list down to two charities, Place of Hope and Hope Academy. Now other hikers and I raise money for Katie's Club, funds which will be used to match all donations that Place of Hope and Hope Academy can raise.

I have served several meals at Place of Hope, and it is an emotional, humbling, amazing experience. What is shocking to me is when you see someone wearing jeans and a polo shirt, like they just walked into a normal restaurant. But they are homeless. These are people that most people choose to ignore, so hearing how thankful they are to get a warm meal and see that someone cares about them is so rewarding! I have also heard Hope Academy's story several times, and visited their facilities once. The students are from extremely low-income families, but are able to get a Christian education through the generosity of others. The faculty and staff could be making a heck of a lot more money at other schools, but they chose to enrich the lives of these inner city kids. 


What can we do?

There are a few things you can do.
- Check out our website. It has a lot of the nitty-gritty details on the hike itself, what to bring, what to pack, why we do it, and who you can contact for more information (the contact form is available here).
- Consider hiking for hope yourself. To participate in the hike, those over 18 years of age are asked to raise $250 minimum. Additional members of the same family are asked to each raise $50 minimum. THIS IS A FAMILY-FRIENDLY EVENT! Beyond the main event, we'll have games and food available for all. 
- If you're unable to hike, we'd still love your support. You can also donate to the event online at our Razoo page.

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