‘Hike for Hospice’ coming to Monora Park

April 13, 2017   ·   0 Comments

By Mike Pickford

Minus a slight blip in the weather last week, it appears that Spring has well and truly sprung in Dufferin County and one local organization is ramping up for its largest annual fundraiser.

Hospice Dufferin has been a staple in the local community for the best part of a decade and each and every year the not-for-profit association reaches out to the public for assistance in the shape of its ‘Hike for Hospice’ fun run and barbecue. Now into its ninth year, the run serves as the chief fundraiser for an organization that provides much-needed care and assistance to the region’s most vulnerable individuals.

“We’re classed as a visiting hospice that offers a wealth of different programs and support mechanisms for people suffering with an illness, regardless of what stage they’re at,” Hospice Dufferin’s Executive Director, Maureen Riedler, explained. “We serve over 400 families each and every year and really try to make sure we’re supporting and encouraging our patients to live their life fully in the face of illness.”

She added, “There are a lot of misconceptions and misunderstandings about what exactly palliative care is. Most people believe it’s just end of life, which of course it isn’t. It’s more of a philosophy of care for anyone that is hit with a life changing disease.”

Having taken on an active role in organizing the event in recent years, local elementary school principal Dan LaCute – who also sits on Hospice Dufferin’s Board of Directors – says the Hike for Hospice is a “wonderful opportunity” for the community to learn more about what it is the organization does on a day-to-day basis.

“Since joining Hospice Dufferin four years ago, I’ve felt very strongly that this event is one of the most important annual fundraisers in the region,” Mr. LaCute said. “As a non-profit organization, we rely on obtaining 70 percent of our operating costs through the various fundraisers we offer throughout the year. Hike for Hospice is the big one – not only in terms of financials, but in terms of getting our name out there and letting people know what kind of an influence we have in Dufferin County.”

While last year’s event fell flat due to poor weather, Mr. LaCute noted the event had close to 150 participants in 2015 and raised over $20,000 for Hospice Dufferin. He’s hoping to eclipse those numbers this year, setting a “hopeful” target of 300 registered participants and a goal of $25,000 raised.

“It’s out there now!” Mr. LaCute said. “Tentatively, we’re going to say that we hope every member might raise between $50 to $100 through pledges. That would take us way past our goal.”

Taking place at Monora Park again this year, the hike features three different routes of varying lengths – a move designed to encourage more people to come out and get involved.

“We have a five-kilometre route that people can choose to run if they’d like, then we’re going to have a shorter three-kilometre route for those that enjoy walking around the park on, hopefully, what will be a beautiful day. And then we’ll have a 1.5 kilometre walk for families with small children and any of our patients that may want to take part,” Mr. LaCute said.

Ms. Riedler promised a “special surprise” for the shorter route, stating volunteers would be transforming the area into an enchanted forest for the younger participants. She also said those that are attending in memory of a loved one that has passed away will have the opportunity to place a special memory block somewhere along one of the routes.

“We see a lot of returning families and teams. We’ve been doing this since 2009, when we had just 12 participants, so we’ve come a long way since then. Now, we have a very, very strong group of returning participants who come out each and every year in memory of individuals who are no longer with us,” Ms. Riedler said.

She added, “But while people may think this is a sad and sombre event, it is anything but that. This is an event about life and will hopefully be a fun day for all those involved to come out, meet new people, learn about our organization and enjoy themselves while doing so.”

The event will also feature a barbecue, live band and a host of activities for kids including games, balloon animals and face painting. Registration begins at noon on May 7, with the hike itself starting at 1 p.m. For more information on the event, visit

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