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Hike for Hospice embraces death as part of life
Death gets a bad rap and should be brought back to life.
So said Stephen Garrett at the start of the Hike for Hospice event in Oliver this past Sunday.
The death coach and author, who openly embraces the grim reaper, told the hikers that it takes a community to grieve, just like it takes a whole community to raise a child.
It also takes a loving and caring family and circle of close friends to properly prepare you for the inevitability that we’re all going to get old and die, said Garrett.
The annual hike raises funds for Desert Valley Hospice Society, a charitable organization committed to supporting excellence in the delivery of end-of-life care for local residents.
The April 4 event raised $8,929.
Like Garrett, society president Janet Shaw doesn’t beat around the bush when she talks about aging communities.
“We are all going to die,” she said as the rain clouds were approaching the hike and bike path from the north.
Shaw thanked everyone for supporting the hike, noting it shows how much people care for each other in Oliver and Osoyoos.
A large contingent of Osoyoos residents took part in the annual hospice hike.
For Alanna Waunch from Oliver, the hike represents a real sense of community.
“We are all connected in some way. Chances are you know someone in palliative care.”
Mavis Grant, a retired nurse who worked at South Okanagan General Hospital, lost a nephew to cancer.
“It’s very important to be there for families so they have someone to talk to,” Grant said.
Dave and Anna VanSlageren took part in the hike and raised $190 in pledges.
Anna said her doctor gave her a pledge sheet and recommended that she participate. Anna has a personal connection to the hike since a friend (Peter Perkin) spent his last days in palliative care before he died in 2011.
Dave said there are a lot of older people at the end of life who need hospice support.
Sheila Potts, who worked as a registered nurse for 32 years, saw firsthand how important palliative care is to the dying and their families.
“It’s amazing support and well worth donating to,” she said.
Potts noted she is going to work hard to help the Desert Valley Hospice Society establish a free-standing hospice centre in this area.
“This is something I passionately believe in.”
Just before the hike, Larry Larson from the Kiwanis Club donated $1,000 to the society.
Shaw recognized Merrill Bjerkan for raising the most money in pledges – a whopping $805.
(Please read the related story as part of National Hospice Week on Page 7).
Special to the Times