Doc Connell’s newest Wings Home fundraiser is 150K Walk

By: 
Ryan Lewis, Editor

Jim Connell is determined to raise money again this year for Wings Home in Allegan.

A recent crash on his bicycle, however, has the recently retired veterinarian lacing up his walking shoes for what he’s decided to call OFG 150K Walk in 30 Days Challenge.

“I can’t bike. I can’t swim. I can’t golf. But, I can walk,” Connell said, now a week into his fundraiser that began July 17.

A shoulder injury—and a damaged bike—dictated not repeating last year’s fundraiser in which he pedaled 500 km throughout two months. Donations gathered for that totaled more than $11,000.

He’s hoping the community will again step up to support Wings Home at $1 for each of the 150 km of the challenge—which actually matched up with the first of two happy coincidences for the fundraiser: it costs approximately $150 per day to provide care at Wings Home.

The local nonprofit provides a home-like place for clients to live under the care of Wings of Hope Hospice. Volunteers and staff provide 24-hour care. Hospice cares for individuals in their final days and weeks of life to mitigate pain and other symptoms.

“This year we’re on a tighter time-frame,” Connell said. “So we need to develop a sense of urgency so we can come up with another substantial donation for Wings Home.”

The “OFG” stands for “old fat guy,” he jokes. He came up with the bicycling event as a way to “rock the rehab” following his open heart surgery in late 2017. He’s also had a knee replacement. He said he undertakes efforts such as these to encourage others to help a good cause as well as promote staying active.

That’s the other coincidence he discovered after deciding on this: its 30th and final day is the same as the Allegan General Hospital Foundation’s Strides for Health 5K Run/Walk on Aug. 17 at 8:30 a.m.

“That’s just cool,” said Connell, who also sits on the hospital’s board of directors. “So I think they’ll be making an announcement that morning that you can ‘join Dr. Jim to finish his 150K.’ I’m entering that event as well, and it’s nice to benefit both agencies.”

Strides for Health shares the same goal of encouraging active lifestyles. There will also be a Kids Fun Run at 9:15 a.m. Early registration for the main run/walk is through July 31; visit www.stridesforhealth.com.

Connell also plans to alter one of the dozens of shirts he ordered for those who had planned on riding with him on his repeat of the 500K. That will then be auctioned off at the 28th annual Charity Golf Classic, also organized by the hospital foundation, on Aug. 8 at 8:30 a.m.

For his 150K walk, he’s having interested donors send checks directly to Wings Home or visit www.wingshome.org, designating gifts for “OFG 150K.” For those donating on Facebook, the donation amount can be changed from its default of $5; he’s encouraging those who can to donate at the $1-per-kilometer level.

“Will you donate $150 and pay for a day?” he asked on his Facebook page.

For those who want to spot him on his 5K walks each morning, he said he has been posting his routes to Facebook.

“I’ve had heart surgery, a shoulder repaired, a knee replacement,” he said. “I’m hoping through my example, I’m encouraging others to do it.”

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