Hundreds gather for Shriners Walk for LOVE Walkathon

The Walk for LOVE Walkathon started in Springfield, and has since spread to the other 22 Shriners hospitals.

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Shriners Children’s Hospital in Springfield held their 8th Annual Walk for LOVE Walkathon and Barbecue Saturday.

Nearly 700 people gathered at Springfield’s Shriners Hospital for Kids, for the 8th Annual Walk for LOVE Walkathon and Barbecue.

Whether on wheels or on their feet, this convoy of determined people, couldn’t be stopped.

But once they did, they were treated to good times, which is what the hospital has been known for, for nearly a century.

“In 1922, we started the hospitals to treat kids with polio and it’s always been about treating kids and it’s just maintained that mission, for children, up until today,“ said Shriners Chairman Steve Bebehe.

This year the hospital will serve more than 15-thousand families.

Mostly, from western Massachusetts and New York.

“We’re thankful to have this hospital in our area,” said Brian Hazlett of Westfield.

Last year, the hospital served patients from 26 foreign countries.

“The specialized treatment and to go the extra mile to see how we we’re doing,” said Hazlett. “We’re just very thankful.”

Kids enjoyed face paintings, music, arts and crafts and even zoo animals.

Thanks to the Forest Park zoo.

The Walk for LOVE Walkathon started in Springfield, and has since spread to the other 22 Shriners hospitals.

For some, the Walk for LOVE was a celebration of love found.

22News spoke with a couple, who met back in 1996, at a hospital function, while receiving treatment.

“It was called the Harvest ball,” said Daniel Dean. “It was like a prom dance for patients. We’ve been married for 13-years now and we have two great gorgeous boys.”

Shriners Hospital provides care to children with orthopedic conditions, burns, spinal injuries and cleft lip.