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Article Published April 23, 2019

Hike for Hope Hits 9th Anniversary in Ivoryton

By By Karena Garrity

Since 2009, the Abramson-Schaller family has staged the Hike for Hope, an annual hike in Ivoryton in memory of friends and which benefits cancer research organizations. This year’s event will be held on Sunday, May 5, kicking off at 10 a.m. at the trail head of Falls River Preserve on Falls River Drive.

The idea for the Hike for Hope arose during a celebration of sorts. Ivoryton resident Phil Schaller had just completed treatment for bile duct cancer and to celebrate, the family traveled to California; there they participated in a West Coast Hike for Hope and decided to bring the idea back to Connecticut.

Ever since, Schaller and his family have organized this annual hike, which honors friends they have lost to bile duct cancer: Bill Whaley of Deep River, David Hyde of Essex, Ray Gosselin of Branford, Christopher Wilke of Burbank, California, and Jill Parker of Massachusetts, who participated in last year’s hike but lost her battle with the disease.

The event also celebrates the lives of those that have survived the aggressive cancer and are currently in remission and raises money to donate to cancer research-based organizations. In past years, monies raised have gone to Smilow Cancer Center. This year, proceeds will be going to the Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation.

“When we were going through Phil’s cancer treatment, so many people helped us out in a number of different ways—they brought us meals, they supported us—and we just wanted a way to give back, so we started this hike,” explained Brooke Adamson, Schaller’s wife.

In the past, Alex Schaller, the couple’s eldest son, was instrumental in organizing the event, however, now that he is at San Francisco State University studying cinema, his younger sister Siena Schaller is taking the reins.

“Alex taught me that sometimes organizing all this is difficult, but you push through because it’s important,” said Siena Schaller.

“Our unofficial goal each year is to raise at least $1,000,” explained Adamson. “Most years we have exceeded that goal.”

She added, “We ask that each person who is part of the hike donate what they can at the start of hike; some people give $5 and some give $100, it really is a kind of do-what-you-can event. Every dollar is appreciated.”

There is no rain date for the event, which is dog friendly and covers about a mile and half of terrain. For more information, email Adamson at T-shirts donated by Gorilla Graphics will given out to participants, as well as snacks and beverages donated by Dunkin Donuts, Adams Supermarket, and Big Y.