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'Hike on Your Site' another way to help Rotary Hospice Stratford Perth

'It's about getting together and remembering'. Hike for Hospice is June 25 at Stratford Perth Museum
Team Janice are again participating in Rotary Hospice Stratford Perth's Hike for Hospice coming up on June 25.

If you are away on vacation, at a friend's house, or just have other plans, you can still take part in Rotary Hospice Stratford Perth's Hike for Hospice. 

The local hospice is offering a twist on virtual participation for one of their biggest fundraisers of the year. 

A 'Hike on Your Site' option will allow more people to participate, even if they can't get to the Stratford Perth Museum for the Hike on June 25. 

"We have realized for some people that works," said Lucie Stuart, director, fund development and stewardship. "They want to hike at their cottage or on the Bruce Trail or hike on their treadmill."

Anytime the previous week, leading up to the Sunday event, individuals or groups can get in their workout and send photos to Rotary Hospice Stratford Perth to help promote the Hike. 

The distance itself doesn't matter, either.

"Just get out for a walk and raise some money for us." said Stuart. "It's about getting together and remembering."

The pandemic cancelled some events and forced creative ways of hosting others, and the local hospice was not immune to that. Organizers are excited to get back to in-person for this year's Hike, for the second time at the museum after several years at Stratford Rotary Complex. 

April Reid, RPN and part of the clinical team at Rotary Hospice Stratford Perth, is one of the committee members who organized this year's Hike. Reid said it is good that clinical staff get to feel a part of organizing a fundraising event, knowing how vital raising funds is to overall operations. 

Only half of the hospice's operating funds are provided by the Ministry of Health, the rest, about $900,000 per year, have to be raised locally. 

"It really helps us feel some ownership. We are employees but this is such a small, tight-knit group. It is nice to be involved in more than the day-to-day job of caring for residents and help with some fundraising and seeing how much work goes into it so I can come into work everyday." 

The local Hike was started by a volunteer committee before formal fundraising to build the Hospice even started. It is a national event for hospices across Canada, held at different times throughout the year. 

The museum offers an ideal outdoor space, Stuart said, with the Tom Orr trail out back, washrooms, a bandshell, and plenty of parking.

"We get a variety of families and ages, so this is a good venue for us," Stuart said. 

The day will include music, an eye spy game and other activities for the family. Reid said they are also including a memorial piece, where families can bring a photo of their loved one with a small story attached to it. 

A picture of grandpa on the golf course, for example, is a nice way to remember someone, she said. Those stories have started being shared and dropped off and will be taken to the venue on the day of the Hike. 

Organizers will ask some of the hospice's 150 volunteers to help out, so more volunteers are not needed.

Veteran hikers will notice that the date is new. Formerly held on the first Sunday in June, Stuart said they switched it up to avoid a conflict with the Perth County Pride March. Both ran on the same day last year. There is no animosity: Stuart said bigger crowds will hopefully show up for both if they are on different days. 

Hike for Hospice also has an honourary chairperson this year, Brittany Beirness. Her team raised money in memory of Janice Beirness, who had a "short, but hard fought battle" with cancer and spent time at Rotary Hospice Stratford Perth in August 2021. 

Janice worked in accounting for the City of Stratford for a number of years. 

The family's experience showed them the importance of having a hospice in the community, for residents and family, Brittany said. 

Team Janice is hiking again on June 25. 

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