Floral Park woman takes part in Hike For Haiti Challenge in her hometown after trip cancellation

A Floral Park woman's humanitarian trip to Haiti was canceled because of the pandemic, so she's taking part in the Hike for Haiti Challenge in her hometown to raise funds for health care workers instead.
Linda Thelemaque is among 300 people worldwide taking part in the challenge that raises money for Haitian students, teachers and medical workers. She says the first COVID-19 case in Haiti came seven weeks after the United States'.
Thelemaque was scheduled to fly to Haiti last month to participate in the hike in person, but flights were canceled and stay-at-home orders were issued. She and other hikers were left with a dilemma.
"It's like OK, pandemic is here. But how can we ultimately do this great event?" says Thelemaque.
Their solution -- a virtual hike. Participants walk in their hometowns and post photos of their feats online. The 10.5-mile trek is equivalent to the distance that some Haitian children in Marre a Coiffe endure because they have to climb a mountain to attend the only school in the community.
"It's my small way to ultimately be in solidarity with these children that have to do this every day," Thelemaque says.
Thelemaque says social distancing and working remotely are luxuries many in the Haitian community can't afford.
"They are living hand to mouth. So they still have to go to work, they still have to go out in order to feed their families," she says.
Thelemaque raised $2,100 by walking in various Nassau County parks. Fellow hiker Sarah Porter says she's inspired by the participants, considering many are facing their own losses during the pandemic.
"It's really awesome to see that amidst a global pandemic, people still want to connect to something bigger than themselves and they still want to get involved and support a place that can feel kind of far away," says Porter.