Renfrew — On Sunday afternoon over 350 people gathered to walk in memory of loved ones and in gratitude to what Hospice Renfrew provides as jointly they raised over $95,000 — and counting – to keep the local hospice operational.

“We are so grateful,” said Hospice Renfrew Executive Director Marjory Joly.  “We will be over $100,000 when we are all done. We are so grateful for the participants, the businesses who sponsor, the teams.”

Now in its 16th year of operation, Hospice Renfrew provides end-of-life palliative care free of charge to anyone in the catchment area of the County of Renfrew. However, this is not possible without community fundraising and the annual Hike for Hospice is the biggest event. While each year the community has rallied to support hospice, the turnout this year and the fundraising effort was spectacular, she said. While perhaps not the largest fundraising hike in the history of hospice, it was bigger than 2023 and this in a year when economic pressures are increasing for many Canadians.

“Last year we were about $10,000 less,” she said.

She was thrilled by the turnout annual hike. Despite some predictions of rainy weather, the rain held off and the participants enjoyed the walk and the camaraderie.

“It was an absolutely amazing day,” she said. “We had some new teams and some returning teams that participate every year.”

There is a feeling of family at the hike as people come together again and remember, she noted. Some teams have been participating for many years in gratitude and remembrance.

There is something very special about Hospice Renfrew, Ms. Joly acknowledges.

“At Hospice Renfrew it is the care, comfort and compassion we provide,” she said. “We also have grief and bereavement services which are so needed.”

An individual in palliative care and their family are supported at Hospice Renfrew in an attractive setting in a home-like environment. With six beds, there is rarely a bed not being used.

“People come from all over Renfrew County and someone out of Renfrew County sometimes if they have a family member who lives here,” she said. “Our occupancy rate last year was 97 percent.

“Everyone who walks through the doors is so grateful their loved one can be here and the family can stay here,” she said.

Without the fundraising efforts, it would not be possible to keep the hospice operational, she stressed.

“It helps cover operational costs and costs in general so we can provide services free of charge,” she said. “It is things like the laundry services, the staff.”

Ms. Joly said she is very grateful for the people who donate to Hospice Renfrew and is cognizant there are many financial and fundraising pressures in the community.

“We know there are so many organizations who are fundraising, so we are so grateful for the support,” she said.

Board Chair Gerald Tracey agreed with Ms. Joly’s comments adding the board is extremely grateful to the many people, businesses and organizations that donated to the hike.

“It was an absolutely amazing hike and to think the total will surpass $100,000 this week, especially in these times of rampant inflation and high costs, is awesome,” he said. “But it just goes to show you how people always find a way to support something so important in the community as Hospice.”

While most of the participants walked the three km route through Renfrew, there was also a group of runners who ran 5 kms. Zack Remus of Renfrew did the run in 23.1 minutes, 1.5 seconds ahead of Alexandra ——of Renfrew.

The top fundraising team for the second consecutive year was Team Eganville Leader which raised $13,520. Team Dunbar placed second with $7,726 in donations while the Hospice Happy Hikers raised $3,393. The Dunbar family have been huge supporters of Hospice for several years and through their weekly Buck-a-Luck draws they have now raised more than $500,000 for Hospice.

myFM’s morning man and Hospice Board member, Jamie Cybulskie, was back as the event emcee and he always does a great job motivating the participants and keeping the program moving along slowly. The Renfrew Pipe Band filled their air with the skirl of bagpipes and led the walkers on the first leg of the hike. Representatives from St. John’s Ambulance were on hand to provide emergency assistance and members of the Cobden Civitan Club, who celebrated their 50th anniversary the night before, were selling their very popular Bacon-on-a-Bun.

Each year, Al Utronki’s Appliances & TV gives away a large screen TV to one lucky participant and the winner this year was Nigel Laut who was walking with the Papa Patrol in memory of Bill Kelford.