Christine Cox lost her father, Paul Cox, five years ago when he passed away following what Christine described as a very courageous battle with cancer. He was 63.
“It was important to my dad that he live out his last days at home, where he felt most comfortable,” explained Cox. “And because of the love and care of my mom and his health care team, he was able to do this. I couldn’t imagine someone dying without receiving the care and support needed during such a difficult time.”
This is what inspired Cox to support the Hike for Hospice, an annual fundraising event that supports both Hospice Orillia and Mariposa House Hospice. Her support has been substantial. Since first participating in 2017 with her team, Hearts for Hospice, she has raised over $25,000.
“I formed the Hearts for Hospice team with my mother and a group of close friends who are all passionate about the need for palliative and hospice care,” said Cox. “I hike every year in memory of my father and look forward to being able to take the time to recall fond memories along the way.”
Similar to last year, the 2021 event will not be held as a group hike along Orillia’s waterfront, as is usually the case, but will allow participants to take part individually by “choosing their own adventure.”
“We’ve tried to make the event as inclusive as possible,” said Amanda Tevelde, communications and fundraising coordinator with Hospice Orillia. “Whether you want to walk to your mailbox and back or complete a 15-kilometre hike, everyone is encouraged to participate.”
Hike for Hospice is a national fundraising event that traditionally takes place on the first Sunday in May. Local organizers have added Saturday to make it a weekend event, taking place May 1 and 2.
Linda Rodenburg, who was awarded top fundraiser in last year’s event, plans to participate this year with her 8-year-old daughter Evie. They’ve come up with a plan to walk 5.3 kilometres (representing their combined age of 53) over the weekend.
“Evie is really excited about the event and actually created her own hand-drawn flyer to promote our participation,” said Rodenburg.
“I decided to make the flyer because it shows more about what we are doing and I love to draw,” said Evie. “We gave it to almost the whole neighbourhood,” she added.
Evie says she is looking forward to the event because it’s a chance to get outside while they are “stuck at home,” and says she knows the money will go to a place that needs it.
“I think that at the hospice they serve you your favourite food and if you like to get outside, they will actually push your bed out onto a deck,” said Evie.
For Rodenburg, she looks forward to some mother-daughter time while also having the chance to talk honestly and openly about death and dying and how important having hospice services are.”
“Having choices at the end of life is so important – it makes all the difference. You could say that having hospice care lets you die on your own terms. That’s really meaningful to me,” explained Rodenburg.
This is the fifth year that both Hospice Orillia and Mariposa House Hospice have partnered to host Hike for Hospice. While Hospice Orillia provides support to those coping with advanced illness, death and bereavement, Mariposa House, which opened in 2020, offers a home-like setting to provide 24-hour end-of-life palliative care.
“We are really lucky to have both services in our community,” said Tevelde. “My goal, with events like Hike for Hospice, is to try to help the way we talk about end-of-life and the importance of quality of care. It’s so essential; we all hope our loved ones have the care they need at the end of their lives.”
The passion and commitment shown by participants like Rodenburg and Cox demonstrates what a positive fundraiser Hike for Hospice is for our community. And it’s easy to get involved.
If you are planning a weekend hike – or walk, run, wheel or bike – why not turn it into a way to support the cause. Donations of any amount are accepted. Or you can simply support individuals and teams that are taking part.
By using an online search for “Hike for Hospice Orillia 2021,” or visiting the Hike for Hospice Facebook page (H4HOrillia), you’ll find details and registration information.