On Feb. 27, Neighbors United is hosting a 10-mile walk, benefitting children with cancer. It is set to run along Hall Road, beginning at Heydenreich Road in Macomb Township, heading west to Van Dyke Avenue in Utica, and back.

On Feb. 27, Neighbors United is hosting a 10-mile walk, benefitting children with cancer. It is set to run along Hall Road, beginning at Heydenreich Road in Macomb Township, heading west to Van Dyke Avenue in Utica, and back.

File photo by Heather Gardner


Winter walk set for Hall Road

Benefits children with cancer

By: Alex Szwarc | C&G Newspapers | Published February 10, 2021

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MACOMB COUNTY — It may be cold. It may be windy. It may be snowing.

It may be all three, come Feb. 27, but Joe Warne thinks it’ll be worth it.

That’s when Neighbors United is hosting a 10-mile walk, benefitting children with cancer.

It is set to move along Hall Road, beginning at Heydenreich Road in Macomb Township, heading west to Van Dyke Avenue in Utica, and back. It begins at 10 a.m. and is expected to take around four hours. Participants are asked to park in Target’s parking lot.

This is the third annual childhood cancer walk.

“The reason we do it in the winter is to show that, if these children can get through chemotherapy and are very resilient and strong, then we can go out and suffer through one day of a 10-mile walk in the cold,” Warne said.

Warne, a Macomb Township firefighter, is the founder of Neighbors United, an organization dedicated to helping individuals and families who are down on their luck and need extra help.

All walkers are asked to try and raise a minimum of $300. The walk is also seeking $10-$100 sponsors. The goal is to raise $4,000, which will go toward families with children on the oncology floor at Children’s Hospital of Michigan in Detroit.

Any amount over the goal will benefit children at the pediatric unit at Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak.

“The money is to ease their financial burden for that moment in time,” Warne said.

At last year’s winter walk, which traversed from Center Line to Utica, over a dozen people participated. Over $1,100 was raised for children receiving cancer treatment at Children’s Hospital of Michigan.

Even though the childhood cancer walk is more of a local effort, opposed to Warne’s 140-mile walks benefitting firefighters with cancer from around the state, he finds that folks give a little easier to the cause since it’s a lower monetary goal.

The goal this year is to have around 15 walkers willing to raise money. As of Jan. 26, a dozen walkers had signed up.

While folks can show up on the day of to walk, Warne encourages those looking to participate to register on the Neighbors United Facebook page.

The Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak pediatric unit is where Warne met Rob Boitnott, whose 6-year-old daughter Sarah died in 2017. She was diagnosed with Batten Disease, a neurological disorder, at age 3.  

“We want her memory to carry on, so we have set a goal of $5,800 to make sure every family on the peds floor can get $100 for Christmas next year,” Warne said.

Last year, Boitnott, of Macomb Township, said he didn’t request any help from Warne at that time.

“One time Sarah was hospitalized and he came up with a gift card so we would have something other than hospital food,” he said.

At the end of 2020, Warne laid out Neighbors United’s future goals.

First, he said the organization still wants to assist individual families in need.

Other goals are to raise $50,000 for the firefighters with cancer walk; $4,000 for the Roseville nonprofit Vets Returning Home; $4,000 for the Children’s Hospital Oncology Floor; $2,000 for MCREST; and $500 for Amelia Agnes Transitional Home.

Having operated Neighbors United for eight years, Warne said he’s come to a better understanding of where people are coming from who are struggling.

“I’ve struggled before when I hit rock bottom and was broke,” he said. “When you see other people, you want to help bring them out somehow.”

To give to the walk, folks can visit wedontjudge.org and click on the donate tab.

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