Although Airdrie and District Hospice Society (ADHS) is unable to hold its signature fundraiser in person due to the coronavirus pandemic, the annual Hike for Hospice has not been abandoned altogether.
Instead of holding an in-person event, ADHS launched “virtual hike” May 9, which will run until May 31.
Normally, Hike for Hospice is held during National Hospice Palliative Care Week, which ran May 4 to 10,Blanchette said.
“Usually it’s a family friendly event that we hold every year,” Blanchette said. “We have a little barbecue at the end of it.”
This year,the organization is asking supporters to send in their donations, and then encouraging them to take a hike outdoors or at home on a treadmill or elliptical.
The registration fee to take part in the virtual hike is $25 per person, but that fee is waived if the hiker is able to fundraise $100 or more. Teams – which Blanchette said can consist of two or more people – can register for $50, or fundraise $200 or more to have the fee waived.
As of May 15, Blanchette said 25 people have signed up for the virtual hike. She’s hopeful that as the month progresses, more will take part. ADHS is hoping to raise $5,000 through the fundraisers, which would be equal to the average amount raised by the Hike for Hospice in the past.
Registration is available at airdriehospice.ca/hike-for-hospice
“It’s an important fundraiser for us,” Blanchette said. “It’s not just about awareness, but it’s a fundraiser that helps us to offer all our programs for free.”
Funds will be used to provide in-home respite visitors for patients with life-limiting illnesses, so that their caretakers can have a break, Blanchette said. The funds also go towards providing grief support groups in Airdrie.
“Our grief support program is going to probably very important in the future,” Blanchette said. “A lot of people, right now, need that kind of support. There’s a lot of grief in many different areas. I personally have friends who have lost family members, and they weren’t able to even have a proper funeral.”
Hikers are encouraged to share photos of their hike on social media with the hashtag #HikeforHospice2020. Blanchette said this will create a sense of community among participants, since they can’t hike together in person.
“It’s to show people they’re not alone,” Blanchette said. “Some people are hiking in memory of somebody, or for somebody that’s going through a life-limiting illness.”
Participating in the hike is an important way to show individuals in Airdrie with a life-limiting illness, as well as their families, that they have not been forgotten by the community.
“I think a good reason to do the virtual hike is to show that we can still have community support amidst everything that’s happening right now with COVID-19,” Blanchette said.
If the spread of COVID-19 is under control and groups are able to safely meet, Blanchette said ADHS is planning to hold a wrap-up hike and barbecue at Nose Creek Park Sept. 12.