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Community steps up for 10th annual Hike for Hospice fundraising record

Hike for Hospice participants, in the spirit of support and remembrance, left a $35,000 fundraising goal in the dust as they trekked the County and raised a record-setting $69,953 for Hospice Prince Edward.

The Hike for Hospice event is a national campaign to raise vital funds and increase awareness for hospice palliative care. The hike is Hospice Prince Edward’s (HPE) annual signature fundraising event to bring the community together. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the hike was held as a virtual event for a second year.

Nonetheless, HPE Community Development Director Melanie Dailey says this year’s support was unprecedented.

“I am completely blown away. The support we received this year is unprecedented. Each morning through June when I checked our online event total I was completely overcome with gratitude and excitement. The virtual format of this event is clearly very popular.”

The virtual Hike for Hospice launched in May and ran for about six weeks. Participants were encouraged register online and collect pledges, and to hike at their chosen time, in their chosen way.

“Something remarkable happened this year,” said Dailey. “We encouraged participants to hike 10,000 steps (approx. 5km). Many accepted that challenge, but many took it further and hiked 10,000 steps a day for several days.”

Many hikers chose to walk sections of the County’s Millennium Trail, some over and over again.

“Ken Branscombe hiked over 400kms over the course of the event. He was hiking to honour his late wife and best friend Cathy. It was incredible to watch our community take these extra steps to support us.”

Participants gathered online recently to celebrate the event’s success with Dailey, and Hospice Prince Edward Board President Peter Matthewman who reminded participants that 100 per cent of the funds raised in Prince Edward County, remain in the community and directly benefit clients.

Sophiasburgh councillor, and Hospice board member Bill Roberts made encouraging and supportive remarks to the group, discussing the value that Hospice brings to Prince Edward County.

Donna Brewster, with her husband Mike at her side, gave a moving account of her family’s recent experience with Hospice when Mike’s father was cared for in the residence on Downes Avenue in Picton.

“Hearing Donna and Mike’s story was so motivating,” said Dailey. “Hospice is a vital community service and we continue to put our heart and soul into making the organization thrive”.

In addition to speeches, there were prizes and thanks to generous sponsors, including Chestnut Park, Pioneer Healthcare, Sunflower Fields Ice Cream (providing each hiker with a free ice cream cone) and the Rotary Club of Picton.

For the grand finale, The Reasons band played a few songs right from Peter Rea’s garage. The band is a mainstay at all the past hike celebrations.

The winning team was “The Cressy Striders” raising $12,000. Debbie Eyton was the individual fundraising star, raising $5,000. Barb Mason won the photo draw, and Ken Branscombe took the prize for most unique hike, due to the estimated 700,000 steps he took.

Ava Runions, inspiring young Hiker with the Cressy Striders, and Melanie Dailey, Community Development Director for Hospice Prince Edward.

“Also astonishing was the incredible contribution made by 13-year-old Ava Runions. Ava was inspired by her grandmother Karen Howse from the Cressy Striders team, to participate in the hike. She walked day after day and raised $4,460.”

“Seeing this level of initiative, commitment and understanding from someone so young inspires us all to do more,” said Annette Gaskin, Hospice board member, and Cressy Striders team member.

Next year Hospice plans to run the Hike virtually again, but hopes to host an in-person celebration and awards ceremony.

Hospice Prince Edward is a charitable organization that provides quality of life, dignity in death; grief and bereavement support for all those living with, or affected by a life limiting illness.

The residential hospice has served more than 300 residents since opening in 2013. An additional 400 families have benefited from the visiting volunteers, caregiver support groups, and grief and bereavement services.

Visit the website for more information, or to make donations, to Hospice Prince Edward.

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