Hospice Dufferin’s board chair riding with a purpose

September 14, 2018   ·   0 Comments

By Mike Pickford

When Dan LaCute awoke from a strange dream roughly five years ago, he could never have imagined the path it would eventually lead him down.

Now Hospice Dufferin’s board chair, the retired educator remembers the exact moment he was encouraged to pursue volunteer opportunities in palliative care. Sitting down with the Citizen to talk about his participation in the upcoming 100km Healing Cycle bike ride, Mr. LaCute remembers where it all began.

“When I was a principal, I remember being around for a school council meeting. One of the parents came in early, she was a nurse at Headwaters Health Care Centre. We got to chatting and I told her about this crazy dream I had the night before. It seemed I was sitting beside someone in a hospital bed, but we weren’t quite conversing because she wasn’t quite aware I was there,” Mr. LaCute recalls, with a smile. “She turned to me and said ‘Dan! That’s palliative care support, and there’s an online course next week if you’d like to register’.”

So Dan did the only logical thing – he signed up.

“I remember getting home and telling my wife I had registered for an online palliative care course. She asked if I really wanted to do that, so, through gritted teeth, I said I wasn’t sure,” Dan said. “It’s safe to say, I’m glad I registered.”

In the years since, Mr. LaCute has spent time visiting clients in their homes, assisting with multiple fundraising efforts, serving on the board of directors and now, finally, acting as board chair. It’s been a whirlwind five years, but Dan wouldn’t have it any other way. Now, on the cusp of his second consecutive annual biking marathon, he’s keen to drum up as much interest as possible to help reach his fundraising goal.

To date, Dan has raised $5,200, just $800 shy of his initial $6,000 target. The 17th annual Healing Cycle will take place in Brampton on Sept. 23. As the sole participant from Dufferin County, Mr. LaCute is ready to do the community proud during this year’s event. It won’t be easy, that much he was honest about, but he’s still looking forward to it all the same.

“Last year’s ride was absolutely brutal. It was probably the hottest day of the year and I just cramped up everywhere. I felt quite ill, but pushed on through. There were only 10 of us riding that distance, so we stuck together as a group,” Mr. LaCute. “The one thing I remember more than most is, after getting home and taking a long, cold shower, I was still sweating two hours later!”

In preparing for the mammoth ride, Dan has completed approximately 2,600km on his bike since the end of April.

Maureen Riedler, Hospice Dufferin’s Executive Director,  stated it was absolutely vital that the organization could call upon people like Dan to help fundraise year after year. The hospice is responsible for raising 70 percent of its annual budget, which runs at approximately $270,000, each year, with the Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) providing the rest. The Healing Cycle will act as a second fundraiser in as many weeks for the organization, following the success of its Bucket List Bash gala this past weekend.

Taking place at the In Memoriam Life Celebration Centre in Mono, the event was a huge success according to Ms. Riedler. Acting as a joint fundraiser and celebration of the organization’s 30th anniversary, the Bucket List Bash was “a night to remember”, says Mr. LaCute.

Now, he’s hoping to make next week’s Healing Cycle ride a day to remember.

“I can’t wait to get out there. It’s pretty special being able to put yourself out there and raise money for an organization you truly, truly believe in. Hospice Dufferin is an excellent visiting hospice, who provides services to more than 450 clients every year,” Mr. LaCute said. “But, we know, with more funding we can do even more. That’s what’s inspiring me to hop back on my bike and take in the ride once again this year.”

He concluded, “This is a monumental challenge for me, and I’m throwing a challenge of my own out to all residents of Dufferin County, and families of those touched by Hospice Dufferin. Please, make a small contribution to my ride and hopefully that will bring me over the top of my goal.”

To donate to Dan’s cause, visit and search ‘Dan LaCute’.

Volunteer fair

Hospice Dufferin is working with Telecheck Dufferin and Alzheimer’s Society of Dufferin County to put on a Volunteer Fair for the Orangeville community. Six organizations have agreed to attend the first event next Tuesday, Sept. 18. It will be an opportunity to see a few of the options that are out there for volunteering in the community and learn about some of the services out there.

“We are hoping to have a larger one in partnership with Volunteer Dufferin in the future as well,” the hospice said in a release Wednesday.

The event will take place at the Alder Recreation Centre from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 3 to 7 p.m.

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