Annual Hike for Hospice goes virtual in 2020

HOORAY FOR HOSPICE (From left) Sandy Jeaees, John Jeaees, Amber Putman, Mary Leyendeckels, Marianne Malachowski and Margot Rivers reveal the total donations raised by the teams and individuals for the 2019 Hike for Hospice. The event is going virtual this year due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. (Desirée Decoste/Gazette Staff)

While it remains a crucial fundraiser for the continuance of a residential hospice in our community, the COVID-19 pandemic is forcing the annual Hike for Hospice to go virtual in 2020.

Each year, Hospices across the country participate in the charity fundraising walk. The Hike is a national campaign aimed to raise vital funds and increase awareness for hospice palliative care in Canada. 

For Hospice Prince Edward, Hike for Hospice is their primary fundraising event of the year and also a wonderful opportunity to bring the community together in the spirit of celebration and remembrance. 

Usually, during the first weekend in May, around 250 participants gather at the Picton Arena to register and warm up with Kathy Terpstra from Everfit Studios before enjoying a beautiful 5 km walk through town. 

Hikers are welcomed back to the arena by cheering volunteers, prizes are awarded, there is a BBQ courtesy of the Picton Rotary Club, a beautiful garden set up by Wentworth Landscaping, and The Reasons get everyone up dancing. 

There is a lot of energy, a lot of gratitude, a lot of hugging, a lot of laughter, and sometimes tears.

(Right) Sophiasburgh Councillor Bill Roberts takes part in some warm up dancing at the 2019 Hike for Hospice. (Desirée Decoste/Gazette Staff)

“Many people Hike in memory of a loved one who died in Hospice care, so you see a whole spectrum of emotions. It is a great opportunity to be reunited with the volunteers that supported them on their journey, that were by their side during their most difficult hours. It is a very meaningful day” explained  Melanie Dailey, Community Development Director for Hospice PE. 

Planning for the Hike was well underway when the novel coronavirus pandemic was declared. 

“We had hoped that we could simply postpone, but it became clear that we would not be able to gather anytime in the near future, and the idea of cancelling wasn’t sitting right,” Dailey said.

As the scheduled Hike date of May 2 came and went, the team at Hospice started brainstorming ideas for how to stay connected to the community, and of course, there is a growing concern about funding. 

“How do we make up the shortfall? What will this mean for us? We knew we had to do something”, says Dailey.  “A few other Hospices around the Country decided to pivot to an online event, and at the same time, I was watching my husband who is a musician, stay connected with his music community and seeing them find creative ways to make music together online. It’s far from perfect, but it is the best they can do right now. I just knew that Hospice had to show up for our community and do our best too. We decided to host a ‘Virtual’ Hike for Hospice.” 

Betty Burns from Chestnut Park, long time Title Sponsor of the Hike, immediately loved the idea. 

“It’s creative and it brings purpose and excitement to people right now during a time when we need some positivity and good news. We can all come together and make a difference for Hospice. They need our support now more than ever,” Burns added. 

The team at Hospice PE are thankful for the community-mindedness of the local Real Estate brokerage.

“We are so grateful to Chestnut Park. Without their generous, multi-year sponsorship, Hike for Hospice would not be possible. All of the agents and staff have been so kind and giving”, said Peter Matthewman, President and Chair of Hospice Prince Edward.  “We are also absolutely thrilled to welcome a new Title Sponsor this year as well. We are really looking forward to getting to know Travis and his team from Pioneer Health Care better.” 

Travis Shawcross, CEO of Pioneer Health is proud to be a first time Title Sponsor of Hike for Hospice. “Hospice Prince Edward has been a wonderful partner of ours for a long time and when they approached me about sponsoring this event, I didn’t hesitate. The work they do is so important to all of us”. 

The virtual Hike for Hospice launched on May 22. Participants are encouraged register online  and collect pledges, but to Hike at their chosen time, in their chosen way between now and June 27. 

In keeping with the usual flow of the event, Kathy Terpstra from Everfit Studios in Bloomfield has made warm-up and cool down videos for participants to use at home. Hikers are invited to connect and share the details of their hike through social media or email using the hashtag #hike4hospicepec – and stay tuned for some friendly competition. 

On June 27 there will be a live streamed celebration with prizes, tremendous thanks, and best of all – The Reasons will play! 

You can register at www.hospiceprinceedward.ca or call 613-645-4040 to be mailed a registration form. 

100 per cent of the funds raised in Prince Edward County will remain in our community. Funds are used to deliver high-quality, compassionate palliative care in our three bedroom residential Hospice, train and assist our visiting volunteers who care for ill and dying clients and their families at home, offer ongoing grief and bereavement support, and provide the community with resources and expertise for advanced care planning. 

-Staff