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Hundreds turn out for annual Highmark Walk for a Healthy Community

Hundreds turn out for annual Highmark Walk for a Healthy Community
Hundreds turn out for annual Highmark Walk for a Healthy Community 02:13

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Through the heat, hundreds of people went to the North Shore for the Highmark Walk for a Healthy Community, a major fundraiser for countless regional nonprofits.

For seven years, Bonnie Wilczynski has put one foot in front of the other as a part of the annual Highmark walk.

"We're walking for Austin and all the kids like him," Wilczynski said.

She does it all for her son, Austin, who was born with multiple disabilities.

"When he graduated, we were looking for a place for him to go for him to continue to work on his life skills, and we were turned away from pretty much every place we tried because his level of need is so high," Wilczynski said.

This experience inspired her to start Austin's Place in Saxonburg, a day program for young adults like Austin to keep them engaged and learning life skills after high school.

"Without a program like this, I would be lost," Wilczynski said.

The organization would also be lost without the walk.

Through the event, from 2003 to 2023, Highmark has raised more than $18 million for more than 550 health and human service nonprofits across Pennsylvania and Delaware. Highmark fully funds the walk, and the nonprofits keep 100% of the money raised by participants.

Kenya Boswell is the senior vice president of community affairs.

"We want to make sure that organizations aren't burdened with all of the expenses to have their own walks that they can focus on really their mission and organizations and people that they serve," Boswell said.

Boswell said they also want to make sure to energize folks to stay physically active, and with the high temperatures on Saturday, they set up extra fans and water stations.

However, the heat didn't stop people from coming out and giving organizations an outlet they may not otherwise have to keep helping the community.

"We don't do a lot of fundraising. We don't have time to do that kind of thing, so this really helps us a lot," Wilczynski said.

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