Sitka Health Summit planning day is Oct. 3 at Harrigan Centennial Hall

Planning Day Flyer 1 - 2014

NewSitkaHealthSummitLogoJoin us for the eighth annual Sitka Health Summit planning day, which takes place from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 3, at Harrigan Centennial Hall.

The Sitka Health Summit got its start in 2007 when then-Sitka Community Hospital CEO Moe Chaudry and then-SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) Vice President of Hospital Services Frank Sutton decided they needed to bridge the gaps between Sitka’s largest two health services. They launched the Sitka Health Summit, with the help of other supporters in Sitka, as a way to improve community wellness, honor local wellness champions, and more.

One of the highlights of the Sitka Health Summit has been the annual community wellness planning day. During planning day, Sitka residents get together to discuss the health needs of the community and create community wellness projects to address these needs.

Over the years there have been a variety of Sitka Health Summit projects — create a local market for local fish and produce, build a Sitka community greenhouse, become a Bicycle Friendly Community, become a Walk Friendly Community, encourage more kids and families to get outdoors for recreation, support a community health and wellness center (Hames), plant fruit trees around town, get more local fish into school lunches, build a Choose Respect mural, Revitalize Sitka, the Sick-a-Waste compost project, the Sitka Community Food Assessment, and Park Prescriptions. The 2013 Sitka Health Summit projects were Together for a Meth-Free Sitka and Sitka Kitch (a project to create a community rental kitchen and improve Sitka’s emergency food storage capacity). The 2014 Sitka Health Summit will choose two new projects, which will receive $2,000 in seed money to get started.

To register for the Sitka Heath Summit planning day, go to or call 738-0468. A free lunch with locally sourced food will be provided.


20th annual Running of the Boots costumed fun run raises funds for Sitka Local Foods Network


It’s time to dig your XtraTufs out of the closet and gussy them up. The 20th annual Running of the Boots begins at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 27, at the big tent near St. Michael of the Archangel Russian Orthodox Cathedral on Lincoln Street.

This will be the second year featuring a new meeting point and course, allowing the race to be a bigger part of the End-of-Season Celebration festivities hosted downtown by the Greater Sitka Chamber of Commerce and the Alaska Cruise Line Association.

“I’m excited about the Running of the Boots joining the End-of-Season folks under one big tent … literally,” race organizer Kerry MacLane said. “We’ll have music, hot chocolate, and folks can enjoy a complimentary lunch after oodles of prizes have been awarded.”

So what is the Running of the Boots? It’s Southeast Alaska’s answer to Spain’s “Running of the Bulls.” Sitkans wear zany costumes and XtraTufs — Southeast Alaska’s distinctive rubber boots (aka, Sitka Sneakers). The Running of the Boots raises funds for the Sitka Local Foods Network, a nonprofit organization that hosts the Sitka Farmers Market and advocates for community gardens, a community greenhouse, sustainable uses of traditional subsistence foods and education for Sitka gardeners.

The Running of the Boots is a short race for fun and not for speed, even though one of the many prize categories is for the fastest boots. Other prize categories include best-dressed boots, zaniest costume, best couple, best kids group and more. The new course starts by St. Michael’s Cathedral, and heads down Lincoln Street toward City Hall, takes a left on Harbor Drive and loops up Maksoutov Street and back to the starting line.

The entry fee for the Running of the Boots is $5 per person and $20 per family, and people can register for the race starting at 10 a.m. Costume judging starts about 10:30 a.m., and runners hit the streets at 11 a.m. As usual, local merchants have donated bushels of prizes for the costume contest. The Sitka Local Foods Network will host a Sitka Farmers Market booth with fresh veggies for sale. The booth takes debit cards, WIC vouchers and Quest cards.

“This is a really fun way to advance the Sitka Farmers Market and our other Sitka Local Foods Network projects,” MacLane said. “This is a must-see annual change-of-the season tradition in Sitka.”

To learn more about the Running of the Boots, contact Kerry MacLane at 752-0654 or 747-7888, or by email at

Historical information about the race (through 2005) can be found online at Info about the Sitka Local Foods Network and more recent Running of the Boots events (2008-13) is online at (type Running of the Boots into the search bar at the top of the page). Click here to see a slideshow of scenes from last year’s event.

Also, don’t forget to like our Facebook page at to stay updated on Sitka Local Foods Network activities.

SAIL Senior Hiking Club sets next hike for the morning of Thursday, Sept. 25

Senior Hiking Club Sept 2014

The Sitka office of Southeast Alaska Independent Living Inc. (SAIL) has announced its next Senior Hiking Club hike will be from 9:15-11:30 a.m. on Thursday, Sept. 25 (note, date on flier is incorrect). Seniors should meet at the Swan Lake Senior Center for transportation to the trailhead.

Normally, the group usually picks the trail on the day of the hike, but occasionally a trail is picked before the event. SAIL makes trekking poles available for hikers to use (trekking poles are great on ice or uneven terrain, and they help seniors keep their balance), and hikers are encouraged to bring cleats such as YakTrax during the icy months of winter.

SAIL offers Senior Hiking Club events for those age 60 or older once a month, usually on the second or third Thursday. There is a $5 fee, but nobody will be turned away because of finances. The hikes are open to people of all abilities and fitness levels. To learn more about the Senior Hiking Club, check out our January 2013 post introducing the club.

To learn more about the Senior Hiking Club, senior and adaptive kayaking trips, senior cycling events, and and a variety of other outdoors skills and survival classes, contact SAIL ORCA (Outdoor Recreation and Community Access) program coordinator Bridget Kratz at 747-6859 or email her at The calendar below includes hiking, orienteering, kayaking, and other events for seniors, youth, and the disabled.

• September 2014 calendar of Sitka SAIL ORCA events

Sharing the road safely with child pedestrians



(Note, the following item was posted on the Sitka Soup website on Aug. 22, 2014)


All drivers need to recognize the special safety needs of pedestrians, especially those that are children. Young, elderly, disabled and intoxicated pedestrians are the most frequent victims in auto-pedestrian collisions. Generally, pedestrians have the right-of-way at all intersections; however, regardless of the rules of the road or right-of-way, you as a driver are obligated to exercise great care and extreme caution to avoid striking pedestrians.

Drivers should not block the crosswalk when stopped at a red light or waiting to make a turn. Do not stop with a portion of your vehicle over the crosswalk. Blocking the crosswalk forces pedestrians to go around your vehicle and puts them in a dangerous situation.

In a school zone when a warning flasher or flashers are blinking, you must stop to yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a marked crosswalk or at an intersection with no marked crosswalk.

Always stop when directed to do so by a school patrol sign, school patrol officer or designated crossing guard. Don’t honk your horn, rev your engine or do anything to rush or scare a pedestrian in front of your car, even if you have the legal right-of-way.

Children are the least predictable pedestrians and the most difficult to see. Take extra care to look out for children not only in school zones, but also in residential areas, playgrounds and parks.

Conquer Chiari walk on Saturday, Sept. 20, helps raise awareness about Arnold-Chiari malformation


Sitka will host its second Conquer Chiari walk on Saturday, Sept. 20, to help raise awareness about a neurological disorder called Arnold-Chiari malformation. Registration for the walk starts at 11:30 a.m. and the one-mile walk is at noon at the Moller Field Track.

joejanechiariArnold-Chiari malformation, or Chiari, is a serious neurological disorder that affects about 300,000 people in the United States. In order to raise research money and awareness about the disorder, they created the Conquer Chiari Walk Across America, a series of Conquer Chiari walks takes place in several communities around the country on Sept. 20. September is National Chiari Awareness Month, and last year’s Conquer Chiari walk in Sitka was believed to be the first event in Alaska.

A personal connection to Chiari is why Hillary Martin organized this event. “My sister, Sarah Martin, was diagnosed with this illness in the spring of 2012,” she said. “Sarah was living with a 25-millimeter Chiari malformation, one of the largest ones the doctor had seen in his career. She needed a brain decompression surgery to stop her suffering. The surgery was performed on Jan. 15 (2013), and it was an amazing improvement to Sarah’s life. Sarah will still live with  permanent damages that were caused by Chiari, but she is becoming stronger and happier every day.”

Chiari is a serious neurological disorder where the bottom part of the brain, the cerebellum, descends out of the skull and crowds the spinal cord, putting pressure on both the brain and spine and causing many symptoms, according to the Conquer Chiari website.

Chiari has a diverse and wide-ranging set of symptoms, and 95 percent of patients with Chiari experience at least five of them. The symptoms include severe headaches brought on by coughing or sneezing, extreme pain in the neck and shoulders, trouble swallowing and sometimes speaking, respiratory problems and sleep apnea, loss of bladder and bowel control, loss of fine motor control, balance problems, numbness in the hands and feet, the inability to feel hot and cold, and weakness, stiffness and pain in the arms and legs. In severe cases, patients can experience paralysis.

Participation in the walk is free, and people who donated more than $26 before Aug. 15 will receive a t-shirt. To learn more about the event, contact Hillary Martin at 738-0314 or

Relay For Life of Sitka helps raise money for cancer research and patient services

Sitka RFL Poster 2.0 (1)

Sitka residents can honor friends and family who have battled cancer while raising money for cancer research and patient services by participating in the Relay For Life of Sitka. The event takes place from 8 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 15, through 8 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 16, at the Moller Field track.

Relay team members will take turns walking or running around the track as part of the family oriented fundraisers. There will be food, games and other fun to build camaraderie during the event. At night, luminarias (bags with sand and candles in them) will be lit in honor of people who have had cancer.

“The Relay For Life of Sitka is a community event where we can celebrate, remember and fight back against cancer,” said Tristan Walsh, Relay For Life specialist for the Anchorage office of the American Cancer Society. “All money raised from the Relay For Life of Sitka goes toward cancer research and patient services, both of which benefit local Alaskans. In 2013, the Relay For Life helped 35 patients in Sitka who were diagnosed with cancer. Besides advice on cancer therapies and treatment, counseling and wigs, we lodged patients and their families in hotels (for free) while they got treatment in places like Anchorage and Seattle.”

The American Cancer Society helped fund the discovery of chemotherapy, radiation, mammography, and the mapping of the breast cancer genome. Today, there are patients all over Alaska who benefit from the research that Alaskans help sponsor — including some drugs like Gleevec, which enables some leukemia patients to turn their cancer into a manageable condition, without need of invasive surgery or harmful treatment. Every year, the American Cancer Society funds thousands of doctors and scientists to make this cancer’s last century.

For more information, contact Ellen Rhule at (360) 202-7301 or


Chamber music and ‘Violins In The Trees’ to highlight Wednesday event at Sitka National Historical Park


People hiking along the totem trails at noon on Wednesday, June 18, at Sitka National Historical Park will be treated to a free outdoor chamber music concert and a “Violins In The Trees” art installation by local artists in the annual Concert In The Park event sponsored by the Sitka Summer Music Festival and the Greater Sitka Arts Council.

There will be a short quarter-mile hike for the free concert, which features Sitka Summer Music Festival artistic director/cellist Zuill Bailey playing the Schubert String Quintet in C Major with the Catalyst Quartet. The annual concert in the park has been a fun event for the festival every year, drawing large crowds of locals and tourists (both music lovers in town for the festival and visitors off the cruise ships). Concert goers should feel free to bring their own folding chairs and blankets.

Hanging off trees along the totem trails will be dozens of Violins In The Trees, old and/or broken violins that local artists paid $25 each to decorate as a benefit for the Greater Sitka Arts Council. The arts council will auction off the decorated violins to raise funds for a variety of events it hosts throughout the year. Last year, the arts council had decorated plywood cutouts of salmon hanging in the trees in recognition of the Salmon in the Trees book about salmon forests by Amy Gulick and the interaction between the salmon, trees and animals of the forest.