An effort to fill the fundraising gap left by the pandemic postponement of Peace Arch Hospice Society’s annual Hike for Hospice has raised more than $30,000, officials confirm.
And the society’s longest-serving volunteer couldn’t be more tickled.
“I’m so proud to be part of the society,” Jean Walker said Thursday (June 17).
“It showed that people have a big heart, and people care.”
The society’s executive director was similarly thrilled.
“We were blown away by the how the community stepped up and helped us to exceed our goal,” Amanda McNally told PAN June 18.
The walk – in its 18th year and typically one of the society’s biggest fundraisers – was held virtually due to the pandemic. Last year’s event was cancelled altogether due to the COVID-19 restrictions.
And while this year looked a little different, “our sponsors, participants, and donors still made this event a big success,” McNally said.
The funds support programs that are offered free of charge to help people cope with advanced illness, or loss of a loved one. In 2019, more than 250 participated, helping to raise more than $24,500.
Walker, 92, has put her heart into hospice for the past three decades.
While she retired earlier this year from the comfort side of that volunteering, in which she helped people face their advanced illness – “I loved it, because I understood my clients…” she said in an April interview – she pledged to continue with “fun things” that support the hospice, including outreach work, special events and fundraising.
To that end, Walker committed to completing a five-kilometre ride on her motorized scooter for last month’s virtual hike, and set a lofty goal of raising $15,000 along the way – enough to cover most of what is typically raised during the Hike for Hospice.
And though she didn’t quite hit her financial target, the senior said she did double her intended distance – and she did it decked out in full blue-and-white for the cause, including a boa, and cheered on by youngsters, fellow volunteers and the community.
Her efforts, along with those of other teams and individuals who signed up, helped the society exceed its fundraising goal by a cool $10,000.
Participants chose when, where and how to complete a one-, three- or five-kilometre journey.
Walker said her ride went off “just beautifully.”
At one point, four or five young boys ran behind her; she also passed a man who played a harmonica and sang, ‘Go, Jean, go.’
“That made my day,” she said.
“This man, he has a wheelchair also, he said he’s going to challenge me (for next year). I said, ‘right on.’”
Marlene, a hospice client and hike participant, said she felt strongly about supporting hospice “because they give so much to us.”
Donations for hospice are accepted year-round. For information, visit peacearchhospice.org
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