Virtual Hike for Hospice Prince Edward surpasses $25,000 goal

Peter Rea and the Reasons belt out a tune from Peter's garage Saturday as part of the virtual Hike for Hospice Prince Edward celebration. (Submitted Photo)

Residential hospices across Canada participate annually in the “Hike for Hospice” fundraiser. 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 the organization’s primary fundraising event of the year and also a wonderful opportunity to bring the community together in the spirit of celebration and remembrance.

But in 2020, Hospice Prince Edward had to think outside of the box and find creative ways to preserve the spirit and intent of Hike for Hospice, while keeping everyone safe and socially distanced due to COVID-19. The Hike went ‘Virtual’ and was, by all accounts, a huge success, setting a new record for most funds raised in its nine year History. 2020’s $25,000 goal was left in the dust as participants raised $32,116 as of  Saturday morning and pledges are being accepted until July 10th.

Gibson the Pug. (Submitted Photo)

“The outpouring of support has been so inspiring, and so deeply humbling. We were worried that setting a $25,000 goal was too ambitious at a time like this, and we were worried about asking our community to give to us when we know so many are suffering financial hardship. WOW, When the going gets tough, the people of this community shows up for one another. We are deeply grateful,” said Community Development Director Melanie Dailey.

The VIRTUAL Hike for Hospice launched on May 22. Participants were encouraged register online and collect pledges, but to Hike at their chosen time, in their chosen way. Everyone was sent a warm-up video by Kathy Terpstra from Everfit Studios and given fun ideas for how to do their Hike. Hikers were encouraged to share photos. 

Saturday morning at 11:00 a.m., participants gathered online to celebrate the event’s success. The event was hosted by Dailey.

Peter Matthewman, Board President, shared that 100 per cent of the funds raised in Prince Edward County remain in the community and directly benefit clients. He emphasized that this year the funds raised are more critical than ever before and there is a still a long way to go. Only 25 per cent of Hospice operations are Provincially funded and Hospice Prince Edward needs to raise about $21,000 a month to keep the doors open under normal circumstances.

However, since the beginning of the novel coronavirus, pandemic costs for personal protective equipment and cleaning at the residential hospice have skyrocketed and there are added expenses for the measures required to train and equip volunteers to resume their compassionate caregiving in a safe way. 

Picton Councillors Kate McNaughton and Phil St. Jean made encouraging and supportive remarks to the group, discussing the value that Hospice brings to Prince Edward County.

Krista Hepburn gave an incredibly beautiful and moving account of her family’s recent experience with Hospice Care when her Mother was in residence. 

“Hearing Krista’s story was so motivating for me,” added Dailey. “Hospice is a vital community service and we have to continue to put our heart and soul into making the organization thrive”. 

In addition to speeches, there were prizes and tremendous thanks to the volunteers and some very generous sponsors, including Chestnut Park, Pioneer Healthcare and The Rotary Club of Picton. For the grand finale – The Reasons played an amazing show, streamed right from Peter Rea’s garage. 

Congratulations to all of the prize winners. The winning team was “The Cressy Striders” raising almost 10 per cent of the proceeds.

Vanessa Lewington was the individual fundraising star and also spent countless hours sewing each hiker a beautiful reusable mask in memory of her dear friend and hospice volunteer Julia Aitken. Mercedes Walsh was the winner of the social media draw, and, finally, ‘Gibson’ the Pug” (Pictured) won for most unique hiker. 

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

The residential hospice has served over 300 residents since opening in 2013. An additional 400 families have benefited from our Visiting Volunteers, Caregiver Support Groups, and Grief and Bereavement services. 

-Staff