A new charity walk initiative came to Merritt this past weekend, raising both awareness and funds to support the fight against a type of cancer affecting 3,100 Canadian women each year. The Walk of Hope, a national event by Ovarian Cancer Canada, had its first event in the Nicola Valley this year.

Rita Kroeker, a long-time local who runs a massage therapy practice alongside her husband, Tim, organized a local chapter of the Walk of Hope on Sunday, September 11. While sitting down with the Herald, Kroeker shared that ovarian cancer is a disease that has heavily impacted her own family, and many others like hers across Canada.

“My sister has ovarian cancer, and she’s been living with it for three years now,” said Kroeker.

“She has a high grade serous ovarian cancer, which means that she doesn’t have a tumor, her entire abdomen is filled with ascites, which is a cancerous fluid.”

Since her diagnosis in 2019, Kroeker said her sister has had an immense amount of support from Ovarian Cancer Canada, and the family was looking for a way to give back to the organization and the local community. The non-profit organization is dedicated to the prevention, detection, and treatment of ovarian cancer. It is estimated that 3,100 Canadian women are diagnosed each year, and 55 percent of them will not live beyond five years from their diagnosis.

Kroeker added that Ovarian Cancer Canada not only supports those living with ovarian cancer, it also offers caregivers a myriad of mental and physical support. According to the organization’s website, it provides support to thousands of individuals on an annual and ongoing basis. Kroeker and her family organized Merritt’s own Walk of Hope in hopes that the community will support Ovarian Cancer Canada, financially or simply by walking with them.

“We had so much fun walking together this morning, sharing stories about our loved ones, and our hopes for the future. I am not sure how much this campaign raised yet because donations were online, but last year there was over $1 million raised for Ovarian Cancer research and for support of these special women,” added Kroeker.

“We were just happy to get out and show our support for my brave sister and all the teal ladies thriving with Ovarian Cancer. Together there is hope, one step at a time!”

The walk happened on Sunday, September 11, at 8:30AM. The planned walking route took teal clad participants from Nicola Valley Massage Therapy on Voght Street, to Spirit Square for a group photo.

The Kroekers thanked everyone for their support, and reminded Merrittonians that it’s not too late to show support, by donating at www.ovariancanada.org.