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Community support for Hike for Hospice 8th annual fundraiser

My husband called it his little resort, for me it was my heaven.

Everyone who attended the Nipissing Serenity Hospice, Hike for Hospice fundraiser Friday afternoon, had a special reason for supporting the event.

The crowd learned that since opening its doors in 2020, the Hospice has provided end-of-life palliative care to 334 residents.

“In an environment that is comforting, and they get to pass with dignity. The Hospice is all about where people can come to live their final days” said  Executive Director of Nipissing Serenity Hospice, Gil Pharand.

Speaking to the many hikers, family members, volunteers, and staff, Tammy Megginson, this year’s ambassador for the hike, kicked off the event, describing her family's experience with the Hospice.

“My husband came from the hospital, here. He had brain cancer which was very quick. He was here for almost four months. Our experience was lovely,” Megginson told the crowd, who had gathered outside the Hospice prior to the hike.

“He called it his little resort, he always said that. And for me, it was my heaven. I was here usually from 7 in the morning until 10 at night. And I left knowing he was in good hands. I was by his side, the kids were by his side whenever they got the chance, and the grandchildren were always welcome. The staff was phenomenal.”

Dan Degagne, of title sponsor, Degagne Group of Companies has a very personal connection with the Hospice.   

“My wife Jessica had a three-year long cancer battle, and she spent 10 days in the Hospice at the beginning of March 2023,” Degagne shared.

“Our experience was nothing short of amazing. Thanks to the staff members my wife was able to die with grace which was amazing. So, it made a bad situation a lot better for myself and my kids, I’m very grateful to the Hospice for that.”   

Prior to the start of the hike, the crowd heard that a total of just over $55,000 had already been raised, with more expected over the next week.   

That total will be added to the more than $470 thousand that has been raised since the Hike started in 2016.

Friday’s event was the in-person portion of the Hike for Hospice.

“This is the kick-off to the weekend where people will be doing hikes virtually, and continuing to fundraise, out there celebrating and giving thanks,” said Executive Director, Gil Pharand.    

“Fundraising pages will stay active until the end of the month, so people still have that opportunity to fundraise, they can just make a donation if they want,” Pharand stated.

COVID didn’t stop fundraising efforts.  

“This is the eighth annual Hike for Hospice.  We never missed a year 2020, 2021 and 2022, it was virtual and that is what led to this hybrid event,” explained Pharand.

“So, people who decided they wanted to do it virtually, they created a team or registered as an individual, they’re doing fundraising and they can do their walk wherever they like. This sort of kicks off the Thanksgiving weekend of Hike for Hospice.”  

Mathilde Gravelle-Bazinet, founder and director emeritus

“My vision it that no one is going to die alone in our community, because that is what our Hospice is all about. And families will be supported during that period of the end of journey for their loved one, and this is happening,” said  Gravelle-Bazinet.   

“It is so gratifying. It is a team effort.”

From the many testimonials received, the Hospice is having a positive impact on the community.  

“We had a mother who was dying this May, and her youngest daughter was graduating from Grade 8, and her eldest daughter was graduating from Grade 12. And her greatest sorrow was that she wouldn’t see their graduation. And we organized that with the Principal of the two schools,” shared Gravelle-Bazinet.

“She was in her bed and we wheeled her into the dining room area for a ceremony. And she was so happy, she was crying from joy.”

And then there was the story of staff working with a woman who loved country music.

“She said ‘I would love to have a country music night.’ And she did. She had all of her family and all of her friends together for that, and they had a grand time,” Gravelle-Bazinet added.

And family pets, like family members, are always welcome to visit the Hospice to spend time with their loved one.