Hike for Hospice goes back to being in-person

Residents will have two options to participate in the seventh annual Hike For Hospice, including the return of a full in-person event.

The Hike for Hospice takes place on Sunday, May 7, starting at noon at Mud Creek Park in south Chatham. Participants collect pledges to raise essential funds for the Chatham-Kent Hospice to ensure families receive compassionate end-of-life care at no cost. The hike is also a way for people to remember their loved ones by placing a memorial sign on the route along Mud Creek Trail.

The Hike For Hospice debuted in 2017 on the one-year anniversary of the Hospice’s opening.

This May’s event will be the first in-person hike since 2019, as COVID-19 restrictions forced organizers to be imaginative to run events in virtual and hybrid formats over the last three years.

In addition to the return of the in-person event, participants can still opt to hike on their own in a hybrid format anytime between May 1-6.

“Over the last couple of years, the week-long format was well received and gave people options on when they could participate,” said Jodi Maroney, Executive Director at the Chatham-Kent Hospice. “This year, we wanted to keep that option available while bringing back the in-person event.”

The 2020 event was conducted virtually as participants conducted an activity of their choice between June 1-14, 2020, which many families shared through a social media post or video.

The 2021 and 2022 events returned to Mud Creek Park in late April-early May as participants walked on their own over the course of a week.

The three hybrid walks from 2020-22 raised close to $350,000. The three hikes from 2017-19 raised close to $265,000 as the financial total and number of participants grew each time.

“Coming together on one day to walk can be very inspirational and meaningful,” Maroney said. “Whatever way people decide to participate, I hope they will feel good knowing they are supporting local families who need end-of-life hospice care.”

The Hike For Hospice takes place at Mud Creek Trail, a welcoming path for participants of all abilities. Participants can register as individuals, families or teams online at www.hikeforhospiceck.com and registration is free. Participants are able to purchase a commemorative t-shirt, photo lanyard or a personalized memorial sign online.

The Holmes family and friends from Dresden have been Hike For Hospice participants since 2018 to support the care shown to Kate’s mother, Louane McFadden, in her final days at the Hospice.

“Hospice provided us with the opportunity to be a family again,” Holmes said. “The support, love and care the nurses and staff provided my mom and our family was beyond anything we have ever experienced.”

“It is our mission to continue to give back as much as we can by our fundraising efforts,” Holmes said, as the Lou’s Crew team has hosted dinners, Krispy Kreme fundraisers, bake sales and other events as well as participating in hikes as their way of saying thank you to the Hospice.

“This is also my personal gift to my mother,” Holmes said. “I no longer have the opportunity to spoil her with gifts on holidays or special occasions, so this is my gift to her and a way to express my love and appreciation.”

Holmes encourages everyone to participate.

“I encourage everyone to participate in the Hike for Hospice and support this incredible organization,” she said.

The Hospice Foundation requires $121,000 in donations each month to support the operating needs of the Hospice. To learn more, call 519-354-3113.

Michael Bennett, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News