Since losing her husband to cancer two years ago, Colleen Johnson has walked in the Chilliwack Hospice Society’s annual fundraising hike alongside her three children. Her late husband Wayne spent his last 18 days at the Cascade Hospice Residence, where the compassionate care he received eased the transition.
“We made a real emotional commitment to let people know about the services that hospice provides, because they were so helpful to us,” said Colleen. “We’ll all be there as a family, carrying on in the memory of my husband’s name.”
The society is holding its 12th annual Hike for Hospice fundraiser this Sunday at 2 p.m. at Townsend Park. Many participants who complete the two- or five-kilometre walk do so in memory of a loved one.
Since 1986, the Chilliwack Hospice Society has comforted the dying and their families. In addition to running a residence, the society’s volunteers visit palliative patients in hospitals, keep them company if family members need to be away, and help patients relax through therapies.
The society also offers solace to the bereaved through support groups, a service that the Johnsons found especially welcome.
Colleen has since started volunteering for the hospice, and plans to do more once she retires in a few weeks. Her family received an award at last year’s Hike for Hospice for raising the most funds of any group.
All hospice programs are free, and dependent on community fundraising.
The Sunday hike will be a fun day outside, said palliative services coordinator Coletta Holmes, with live entertainment and refreshments. Unlike other hospice fundraisers, this one is open to children as well as adults.
The event is a chance for the many people who have passed through the centre to meet again.
“There’s a lot of reconnecting that happens as community clients will see volunteers or people who have supported them through Cascade hospice events,” said Holmes.