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Home > Essentia Health Foundation > Memory Mile to Remember Loved Ones
Published on July 13, 2022
“This event is more about healing than raising money—but it’s also a great way for people to give back in honor of their loved ones,” said Christine.
Although her father died in 2004, Christine Marzullo describes her grief as a life-long journey.
Like most who have lost a loved one, the Hinsdale mother of five still has difficult days, but tries to turn tears into hope by finding signs and sharing his spirit in uplifting ways. Over the past 18 years, Christine has searched for ways to connect with others in providing comfort and support while honoring a loved one.
In 2021, a particularly difficult year for grieving due to COVID and pandemic restrictions, Christine held the first annual “Memory Mile” at Robbins Park. Through her organization, Together at Peace, she invited friends, neighbors and family to join her for a walk in the park in memory of loved ones who have passed.
More than 100 participants strolled through the course, pausing at reflection stops and balloon sculptures along the way, many participating in an optional balloon release afterward. Some walked in silence while others found comfort chatting with a friend. “Many people have trouble expressing their grief, but walking is an easy way for them to reflect on and honor a loved one,” says Christine.
The mission of “walk or run a mile in memory of a loved one who has passed away” remained the same for this year’s event, but the scope has grown beyond friends and family.
Anyone and everyone was welcome to participate—anywhere in the world—by logging a mile any time between April 24 and May 1, 2022. For those unable to walk but wanting to participate, they joined Christine live on Instagram each day during the week as she walked a mile for them! There were many ways to participate this year, says Christine: “Some people registered and donated, others set up a donation page and some people just walked.”
Teams throughout the Duluth region took time to walk together. For some teams this was an opportunity to gather together to acknowledge the experience of caring for people who had died of COVID-19.
One team shared that having the ability to walk together “gave them an outlet to move forward with all that they held in their hearts.” Community members who volunteer or receive support from Grief Support Services walked together to honor and remember loved ones who have died.
The Essentia Health Foundation is grateful to be one of four recipients of this year’s Memory Mile donations. New this year was the “UP” Collection art sale, which includes four uplifting, curated pieces of artwork—each designated to one of the four recipient organizations. In addition to money raised via the walk, 100% of proceeds from the sale of these pieces benefitted the four organizations. Together at Peace Memory Mile raised more than $10,000 for St. Mary’s Grief Support this year.
Gifts to the Essentia Health Foundation will support St. Mary’s Grief Support Services, providing a safe place for grieving children, teens and adults. For individuals and families affected by life-threatening illness or grieving the death of a loved one, St. Mary’s offers counseling, support groups and one-on-one peer support, making the difference between grieving in insolation and thriving in the community.
“This event is more about healing than raising money—but it’s also a great way for people to give back in honor of their loved ones,” says Christine.
Learn more about the Memory Mile program at Together at Peace.
Learn more about our services at St. Mary’s Grief Support Services.
Visit our Give a Gift page and select from our list of Essentia Health campaigns and local foundations.