Walking to help keep neighbors warm

Annual Walk for Warmth fundraiser set for Feb. 25

LAKE COUNTY - Because she believes no one should ever be without heat, Connie Theunick-Perley has become a passionate advocate for the annual Walk for Warmth fundraiser.

Walk for Warmth is an effort of Community Action Agencies statewide to raise funds to provide emergency heat assistance to low-income households and is sponsored locally by FiveCAP, Inc.

Everything raised in Lake County goes to assist residents of Lake, so Walk for Warmth is an opportunity for people to help their neighbors.

“Everybody has different causes they embrace and one, for me, is heating for those who need help,” Theunick-Perley said. “I don’t like to be cold and I don’t want somebody else to be cold. Nobody in our society ever needs to be cold.”

Because of this conviction, the Lake County resident has devoted her efforts to the planning and fundraising for the local Walk for Warmth for more than a decade. She encourages others to get involved in any way they can.

Immediately, there is a need for people who are willing collect pledges and participate in the event, which will take place on Feb. 25 at 10 a.m., beginning from St. Ann’s at 690 East Ninth St., in Baldwin.

Theunick-Perley said raising awareness is the first order of business, and encourages everyone to sign up for the two-mile walk at their local FiveCAP office and begin to collect pledges. For those who are unable to walk, she said they should tell their neighbors and friends to walk, or simply donate funds to the effort. In the past, schools, communities and church groups have banded together to participate in the walk and even waged friendly competitions to see who can raise the most money. For many, it’s become an annual tradition.

“There are families of walkers in Lake County and we look forward to seeing each other every year,” Theunick-Perley said. In recent years, the importance of Walk for Warmth has grown.

“We used to have multiple heat assistance programs that just aren’t available anymore,” FiveCAP Community Support Director Holly Haywood said. “Walk for Warmth is something we can use for emergencies if we don’t have funds available.”

To get involved in the planning efforts, volunteer to walk, become a sponsor or donate funds to Walk for Warmth, call the Lake County FiveCAP office at (231) 745-4617, or stop by 2476 West 44th St., in Baldwin.