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Hikers take on Mt. Diablo to end homelessness

Over 150 hikers raise $70,000

Volunteers for SHELTER, Inc. of Contra Costa took on Mount Diablo on Oct. 21 in the third annual Hike for SHELTER. Hikers raised nearly $70,000 to end homelessness for thousands of families in the county.

Over 160 hikers, including 30 children, hiked four different trails and the summit, totaling an estimated 866 miles. Hikers were cheered on and assisted along trails by volunteers from Athenian High School, Las Lomas High School, National Charity League-Acalanes and San Ramon Valley High School's Mountain Bike Club Team.

Craig Chase, a Danville resident and co-chair of the Hike for SHELTER volunteer committee, led 80 hikers along the 5.2 mile moderate trail. He volunteered to help with the hike because he believed it was a great combination of showcasing the natural beauty of our community with the safety-net needs of the community.

A Girl Scout troop surprised families and facilitated a pumpkin decorating and coloring activity at the turn around point at China Wall.

"I made a pumpkin for my baby sister. She can't hike cause she can't walk yet," said 3-year old Eric who took on the easy trail with dad.

A 5-year old easy trail hiker felt so successful that she exclaimed, "Next year, I'm going to hike the summit."

Kaiser Permanente, SportsBasement, American Giant and other businesses showed their support by donating time, services and supplies. Starbucks employees fundraised and hiked as a team taking on the trail together.

Adam Yust, president of Concord Graphic Arts, printed all the trail signs, hiker cards and maps for free.

"This is the way we support the community by supporting local organizations that can make an impact," he said.

Jeff Rose of JRoPhotography took photos of participants on all four trails.

"It was time well spent especially knowing that you are a part of something that makes real changes in the lives of people," he said. "I have kids and can't imagine them living in a car or in a shelter.

Over the last year, more than 6,500 people with almost half of those being children saw their cycle of homelessness end through SHELTER, Inc.'s preventative measures, housing program, case management services, educational assistance and employment training.

Hikers said they were surprised by how many people wanted to support their efforts in ending homelessness in their community, especially with the economy.

"My friends donated because they believed in ending homelessness and believed in me. They have no idea how much their support means to those SHELTER helps," said Kathy Richardson, inaugural participant.

At the end the day, hikers and volunteers walked away feeling accomplished. Hiker Patsy Mickens summed up her experience, "some people do triathlons for a good cause and some people do marathons, others, like me, do what they can and hike Mount Diablo."

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