95-Mile Hope Hike Supports Mental Health and Veterans

June 15, 2023

Cedar Rapids, Iowa – Van Meter is celebrating employee-owners Paul Stephens and Rich Woods for completing their 95-mile “Hope Hike,” by walking from Van Meter’s Davenport branch to its headquarters in Cedar Rapids. The hike raised over $5,000 for Van Meter’s HOPE fund, which supports employee-owners going through difficult times, and raised awareness around mental health issues and veteran support.

“I don’t think our veterans always get the care and recognition they deserve, so this was an opportunity to bring more awareness to that,” said Stephens.

Woods, a member of the Donahue, IA, fire department, said he learned about the mental health issues first responders often deal with and wanted people to know that it’s okay and healthy to talk about what they are going through.

Van Meter is also celebrating 95 years in business, and as part of its health and wellness program, it is incentivizing its employee-owners to walk 95 miles this year. Stephens and Woods decided to tackle it in a weekend and do some good at the same time.

“There’s nothing you can’t accomplish if you put your mind, heart and soul into it,” said Stephens. “If we hadn’t gotten the HOPE fund involved, I probably would have talked myself out of it, but don’t ever sell yourself short.”

Their families followed along to provide them with food, water and other essentials. Both say they could not have done it without the support of their family, co-workers and community.

They don’t have definitive plans to walk 100 miles in five years for Van Meter’s 100th Anniversary, but they welcome suggestions, encourage others to raise awareness for these causes and plan to support efforts to continue spreading hope.

To learn the whole story of their journey, visit the Van Meter blog.