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Hikers for Hospice support quality end-of-life care in Prince Edward County

The total unveiled at this year’s Hike for Hospice was $25,525, though it is expected that figure will increase as donations continue to roll in.

Story and photos by Sharon Harrison
Hundreds of supporters of quality end-of-life care stepped out to support programs and services of Hospice Prince Edward on Sunday – to the tune of more than $25,000.

The Hike for Hospice, an annual fundraiser now in its seventh year, unfolded on a sunny Sunday morning from the Prince Edward Community Centre and flowed along two routes in Picton.

Whether as part of a team, as an individual, family groups or with a bunch of friends, some walked, some strolled, some came on leashes, a few were wheel-bound and one or two used Nordic poles. Participants could chose either a two or five kilometre loop, but both were completed at a leisurely pace by most, enjoying a pleasantly warm day.

Kathy McAlpine Terpstra, of Everfit Studios in Bloomfield, warmed-up the hikers.

A gentle warm-up session conducted by Kathy McAlpine Terpstra, of Everfit Studios in Bloomfield, got everyone to their feet as muscles were flexed, joints limbered and spirits pumped.

The Waring Walkers in their bright yellow tee shirts led the hike which raises much needed funds to support clients and their families in the community who are living with life-limiting illness.

“We are the Cressy Striders and we are from the Cressy area,” said walker and team organizer Karen Giraudy. “This year we have 16 in our team. Last year I think we only had six or eight so we have increased our group and we are hoping to do another fundraiser for hospice in June as well. I have been a hospice volunteer for a while focusing on fundraising and just getting the awareness out to people in the community, so that’s why I organized the team,” she said.

The Frere Brothers provided entertainment both before and after the hike, and Picton Rotary members cooked up a free barbecue lunch for the hungry hikers.

Peter Matthewman, HPE President, welcomed the supporters on behalf of the board, staff, volunteers and health care professionals.

“It is a major fundraising event held by Hospices across the country on the first Sunday of May, so you are participating with Hospices all over Canada today. To date, your efforts over the past number of years have raised more than $200,000 for Hospice.”

“It’s amazing to see this turnout and to see so many familiar faces,” said Melanie Dailey, the co-ordinator for the hike. “We are all on an important journey here. If it were not for all those in this room, we would not be able to provide the exceptional care in this community, so we are very grateful to you. Please know that any monies raised here today stay in Prince Edward County.”

HPE President Peter Matthewman with June Callwood Award recipient Birgit Langwisch

Long-time hospice volunteer Birgit Langwisch was recognized as the 2018 recipient of the June Callwood Outstanding Achievement Award for Voluntarism. The award was established in 1994 to thank outstanding volunteers throughout the province and several from Prince Edward County have been named recipients over the years.

Matthewman said the honour for Langwisch recognizes someone who has demonstrated a selfless service, compassion, generosity of spirit and commitment to excellence as a volunteer.

“She has been involved with HPE for 22 years and received her 15 year pin in 2011. She joined the board in 2009 and became chair in 2010 and remained on the board until 2016. She has watched the Hospice transition through some very challenging times. In addition, under her direction the Hospice has opened a full residential facility.”

Langwisch said she was honoured to receive the June Callwood Award. “I will continue to do my utmost for this community and for all these volunteers.”

Matthewman also spoke of the important to remember that all the services at Hospice Prince Edward are offered free of charge.

HPE has supported more than 550 families in the outreach and bereavement programs since 2010. The residential Hospice on Downes Avenue in Picton has accommodated more than 200 families since opening its doors in 2013. There are more than 70 volunteers assisting with the Hospice programs and services.

“Community support from donors like you is instrumental in keeping the doors to Hospice open,” said Matthewman. “The monies raised stay in our community for the betterment of our neighbours, families and friends.”

HPE Executive Director Karen Moore introduced Grade 7 student Gabby Kinnear, who spoke about loving care Hospice gave her ‘poppy’.

“It’s great to see a good crowd here today and great weather,” said Karen Moore, Executive Director of HPE who introduced special guest Gabby Kinnear, a Grade 7 student at St. Gregory’s Catholic School. “We were told that there was a beautiful young woman in the community who wanted to do a speech about Hospice and the care that her poppy received during his illness. He died of cancer on June 23, 2017.”

Kinnear believes H-O-S-P-I-C-E stands for: H is for Hope, O is for Open-hearted, S is for Strength, P is for Peace, I is for Illness, C is for caring and E is Empathy.

“Hospice is an end-of-life care for patients who are close to death,” she said. “Last summer, I didn’t know what hospice was until they came to us. At the beginning of summer, my poppy got diagnosed with a non treatable cancer and Hospice didn’t have any more rooms so they came to us,” she said. “I would like to thank Hospice because they helped so much. And when it came to the end, nothing can express the feelings we all felt. Knowing he was at peace with family around and Hospice staff there, which was like another family, you could feel the love. My poppy left this world loved and in peace and comfort, this was made possible by places like Hospice.”

Alice was the winner of the best dressed award for her fairy wings

Among a number of awards and prizes handed out at the closing ceremonies, Kinnear was honoured for her speech. The team raising the most was the Cressy Striders, at $1,350 and Vanessa Lewington was honored as the individual who raised the most at $1,300. The best dressed award was given to Alice who arrived in her fairy wings.

Matthewman acknowledged that it was a really special day for Hospice because it is the one big family-oriented event.

“It’s a great opportunity to share with the community and explain what we do at Hospice. We have other events during the year, but they are more project-oriented. This is just a fun event and we really look forward to it…. We need $18,000 a month to keep the Hospice operating, in addition to the monies the government provides for us, so these types of events are so critical to us and our success,” he said.

The total unveiled at the day’s end was $25,525, though it is expected that figure will increase as donations continue to roll in.

The Waring Walkers warming up for the hike

Hike for Hospice participants gathered at the Prince Edward County Community Centre in Picton on Sunday

Participants followed warm up instructions by Kathy McAlpine Terpstra, of Everfit Studios in Bloomfield.

The Cressy Striders pose for a group photo before beginning their hike

A welcoming committee cheers on returning hikers

Waring Walkers participated in memory of Henriette.



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