‘A warm, caring place’: Hospice Halifax holds annual hike to raise money for end-of-life care

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Hospice Halifax hosts annual hike in support of end-of-life care
Hospice Halifax put on their annual "Hike for Hospice" on Sunday, a global event in support of compassionate end-of-life care worldwide. Hikers walked through Point Pleasant Park, passing by Hospice Halifax, where a cheer squad was waiting. Ella Macdonald joined the hike and brings us the details.

Hospice Halifax held its annual Hike for Hospice at Point Pleasant Park on Saturday, to raise money for compassionate end-of-life care.

One of the hikers, Tasha Keith, lost her husband Rob to brain cancer in October 2023.

In the last few months of his life, Rob was receiving care at Hospice Halifax. The Keiths say the support they received in hospice was incredible.

“When we arrived there it was just such a warm, caring place that took care of us, where I could be his wife again and Avery could be his daughter and we could just spend time together,” Keith says. “So, it’s very important for us to be here today.”

She and her daughter Avery joined more than 100 hikers in a loop around the park, passing by Hospice Halifax, where they were met by a cheer squad.

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Hikers are met by a cheer squad outside the Hospice Halifax headquarters on Francklyn Street. Ella Macdonald / Global News

Avery even brought along a special friend — a Curious George stuffed animal, that used to belong to her father.

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“This is George and he was my dad’s stuffy, and I bring him to school every day,” Avery says.

For Hospice Halifax executive director Rachel Boehm, helping families like the Keiths is what hospice care is all about.

“It allows families the chance to, instead of being the caregivers in those ‘end-of-life times,’ they have the chance to just be there and support and connect with their loved one,” Boehm says.

According to Boehm, hikers raise funds through sponsor donations, and all the money goes to housing patients and their families in hospice, free of charge.

She says some of the cash also goes to bereavement programs for family members, something the Keiths still use to this day.

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“Avery takes part in the children’s music grief therapy program there each week,” Keith says. “So, it’s something that hasn’t gone away even though Rob has passed.”

So far this year, Hospice Halifax has raised about $75,000 for hospice care.

The secret to raising so much money? According to Boehm, it’s a little bit of friendly competition.

Different volunteer groups ‘compete’ to see who can fundraise the most. This year, it was the reigning champions, the Heartfelt Helpers.

Best friends Kathi Vinson and Laurie Dubreuil are the group’s co-captains.

Vinson says raising the most money each year comes from “having a lot of friends” and spreading awareness on social media.

She adds that it doesn’t hurt to be specific about where the money is going.

“Lemonade carts, hot chocolate, parties…”

“All the little things that you don’t think about,” Dubreuil adds. “Special cups of tea that we can offer to family members … great meals for the patients.”

For Dubreuil, volunteering is her way of giving back.

“My mother died in a hospice in Vancouver,” she says. “I was treated incredible by the volunteers there and thought when I came home, I would volunteer at a Hospice.”

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Keith says she and Avery have good memories of hospice, despite Rob’s illness.

“I liked going to the beach right next to it and getting sea glass, and then I gave it to my dad,” Avery says.

Hospice Halifax’s fundraising goal is $120,000 this year. Boehm says there is still time to donate online before the end of the week.

Hospice Halifax has raised $75,000 for hospice care, but still needs to reach its goal of $120,000 by the end of the week. Ella Macdonald / Global News

For the Keiths, Saturday’s hike was about more than raising money.

“It’s about having something good come out of something bad,” Keith says. “And all of us carrying on his (Rob’s) legacy.”

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