Woman, 80, Steps Up to Challenge of Walk

With the aid of two canes, 80-year-old Babs Vickman was determined to complete the 1.2-mile fund-raising walk under her own power Sunday.

"My husband said he would be willing to push me in a wheelchair, but that's like waving a red flag in front of me," said Vickman, a Studio City resident who is recovering from hip-replacement and knee surgeries. "I told him that I will do it somehow on my own two feet, and that's why I'm here."

Vickman and her husband, Harry, 79, were among the 500 walkers to take part in the second annual Intergenerational Walk sponsored by the Organization for the Needs of the Elderly. The group trekked along Victory Boulevard in Reseda, from the Valley Senior Service & Resource Center to the Mark Taper Intergenerational Center.

Last year's event drew just 150 participants, said Stuart D. Zimring, president of the organization, which operates both centers.

"The large turnout is extremely encouraging," Zimring said. "It tells me that the Valley population is finally waking up and acknowledging the importance of our senior community. They are vibrant participants in this community, and this event highlights that in a very physical and visual way."

Marilyn Green Fried, the organization's executive director, said the walk will generate about $20,000 through registration fees and contributions. All proceeds will go to services and programs provided by the organization, including delivering meals to more than 2,300 homebound seniors each week.

"Senior citizens are the fastest growing segment of our population, but the money necessary to serve them is staying flat," Green said. "The only way we can continue to serve them at the same level is to raise dollars, and the only way we do it is through events like this walk."

As for Vickman, true to her word, she completed the walk on her own two feet.

"It's a sense of accomplishment for me," she said. "I haven't walked this far since my surgery."

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