The 57th annual Langley Walk, in Aldergrove, was a time many families gathered to pay tribute to dearly departed loved ones.
Ken and Mike Brassington (Harris) were two brothers on a mission to do just that.
This year, the pair undertook the 10 kilometre route that began at Aldergrove Athletic Park, looped down Fraser Highway and beside the new Aldergrove Credit Union Community Centre.
“I drove 18 hours from Saskatoon last night to get here for the walk,” eldest brother Mike said.
The first year the brothers participated in the Langley Walk was 1969.
“I was only 4 years old,” Ken explained, “our mom was the first person to take us.”
Mike recalls racing through muddied creeks, tall forests and paths underneath power lines to reach checkpoints along the 20-mile route.
“It was a six-hour adventure,” Mike explained. Now, he says the Walk has become an event where families and children enjoy time together without the use of technology.
Shannon Aurelia and her son Beaumont walked together again this year. Their first time was in 2000 when Shannon was pregnant with him.
“We like to start early and toodle-oo,” Shannon remarked, “we take pictures of flowers. People usually pass us.”
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Aldergrove’s Lee Bencinger was perhaps the most faithful walker of the day.
At 75 years old, she has completed 51 years of Langley Walks, which have varied in all sorts of lengths and different locations in Langley.
“I’ve only missed one Langley Walk,” Bencinger admitted, “it was when my son was born in 1971” and she was still recovering from childbirth.
This year’s location hits particularly close to home for Bencinger. It’s a place she’s lived for over 53 years and a neighbourhood in which she regularly walks.
“I come back every year because I really enjoy it,” Bencinger elaborated, “I’m at my old age and still going – I do the 5k and just take my time.”
The cheery local grandmother said she’ll keep walking for as long as she is able to.
Inta Schorcht was another longtime Langley Walker. For as long as her health allowed her – until the age of 88 – Inta tackled the 10 kilometre Walk in under two hours.
Inta passed away this February at the age of 89. Ulrika Merrick – Inta’s daughter – walked 10 kilometres this year in honour of her. Merrick wore her mother’s white shirt and badges.
“There’s no more room on the back,” Merrick explained, “I might need to add tassels or something” to the shirt.
Melissa Clark, a longtime friend of Inta, accompanied Merrick on the tributary walk. The two met through their work at the Langley Arts Council together, for over 20 years.
Inta came to Canada in 1978, and has been through “some tough times during the war” as a German woman.
Clark said Inta was a “fighter” and a “doer.” and that she’d gone through many pairs of running shoes over the years by staying active.
The otherwise-irrelated pair plans to reunite every year and continue walking in memory of her.
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Other families, like the Van Meer’s made every effort to pay homage to their late husband, father and grandfather – Stan Van Meer.
Lynda Marshall, Justin Van Meer and Debbie McGregor continue their family tradition of participating in the Langley Walk.
Stan was a huge fan of the walk and participated every single year since 1976 before his passing.
His orange Langley Walk shirt, which is covered in dozens of badges, was passed on to Justin who continues to add his own badges to the collection.
This year there was a fourth generation added to their mix. The Van Meer family assisted their three-week-old relative, Dax, in his very first Langley Walk.
Aside from uniting various loved ones and family members, the Langley Walk has also managed to unite many neighbourhoods of Langley.
“This is the last remaining event that the City and Township both share,” Langley City Mayor Val van den Broek told the Aldergrove Star.
The City and Township Mayors emceed from the Langley Walk stage, lauding longtime participants with honourable mentions during informal speeches.
Mayor Jack Froese cheered on bikers and walkers from the starting line, giving high fives to many children as they began their journey around Aldergrove.