A sign that spring is just around the corner, the Chatham-Kent Hospice has announced the date for this year’s Hike for Hospice, May 3.
The event returns to Mud Creek Trail near John McGregor School. This is the event’s fourth year.
The hike is a family-friendly and accessible event with strollers, walkers and wheelchairs welcome on this pet-friendly trail. With multiple trail lengths to choose from, people of all fitness levels will enjoy the afternoon.
Event co-organizer Nathan McKinlay said it could be hard to top last year’s event, which he says had more than 900 people show up and raise in excess of $145,000 for the hospice.
“We had a lot of day-of support. The sheer number of people wasn’t predicted by us. We were obviously very impressed and very surprised,” he said. “It’s going to be hard to maintain that level of expectation.”
The weather, which delivered a gorgeous day for walking last year, does play a role.
The Hike raised $58,000 its first year in 2017 and $60,000 the next year, before the massive uptick last year.
McKinlay said the impact of the hospice is widespread, hence the level of support.
“Every single member of the municipality is touched by the hospice. It’s a free service for any family,” he said. “A lot of people don’t realize that. Most of what is done is through fundraising.”
The hospice provides end-of-life care for loved ones, providing a place for people to die with dignity with supports in place for the family as well as the loved one.
The supportive nature of Chatham-Kent impresses McKinlay.
“We’re a pretty good community that way, and people underestimate the generosity of Chatham-Kent,” he said. “C-K as a whole really came together on this (hospice) project.”
There will be a few changes for this year’s event, McKinlay said, including some entertainment before the Hike, as well as a beefed up corporate challenge.
“The Corporate Challenge is a great way for colleagues to bond as a team- working towards a goal and spending some social time together for a great cause that everyone can relate to. The top corporate team will be recognized at the Hike with the coveted Hike for Hospice trophy and enjoy a coffee break reception at their workplace,” shared Amanda McKinlay, event co-chair.
The fun run will be offered again as well.
“People can hike or participate in the fun run. And people who aren’t able to make it there can do a virtual run. You can do that anywhere and still get recognition for it,” Nathan McKinlay said.
He added the hike in some ways is an extension of the hospice community.
“A sense of community is what is built through the hospice. The nice thing about the hike is you bring hundreds of people together with a common thread that connects everyone,” he said. “For the most part, everyone there will have lost someone.”
With that reality in mind, there is a quiet reflection period during the hike, where participants walk in silence in memory of those lost loved ones.
Participants can also tie a ribbon on the memory wall for the hike, and write the name of a loved one on their T-shirts.
“We find a lot of families come together with the memory of one person. This is a nice opportunity to come together to do something active out in nature,” McKinlay said.
Participants can sign up individually, as families, as groups of friends, or as a corporate team.
Register before March 31 to guarantee a Hike for Hospice T-shirt.
Paper registration and pledge forms are available to download at www.hikeforhospiceck.com or for pick up at Chatham-Kent Hospice located at 34 Wellington St. E. in Chatham.