Renfrew — The cheering and clap-ping when this year’s total in the 10th annual Hike for Hospice was announced Sunday afternoon was nearly enough to raise the roof off of Ma-te-way Centre.
MyFM morning man Jamie Cybulski kept the large crowd in suspense as members of the Mason family of Arnprior, who led the walk, joined him on stage and six of them revealed the large numbers one by one. Starting at the very end, the rst number shown was a 4, prompting Mr. Cybulski to say “we’ve got at least four cents”. The second number was a 5, followed by a 2. “We have $254,” Mr. Cybulski said. The next number was a 0, followed by a 1. “So we have at least $10,254 he said. “Let’s go one last number.”
It was another 1.
“Wait a second,” Mr. Cybulski continued. “Something’s not right. We did this (amount) last year; something didn’t end up right. You, you with the wrong number. Try that one out and see what happens,” he said handing the youngster a new number.
That’s when the clapping and cheering broke out and Mr. Cybulski announced the total: $140,254.
“That is absolutely unbelievable,” he said. “Each and everyone of you give yourself a round of applause. This is a Hike For Hospice record for us by a long shot. And more money will continue to pile in so we will be updating that daily.”
This year’s total surpassed last year’s amount by over $40,000 and in the days and weeks to come late donations will be added which could see the total climb to $145,000 or higher.
“What words can you say?” Mr. Cybulski asked. “Thank you doesn’t seem like enough.”
Hospice board chair Connie Legg of Braeside thanked the hundreds of participants for their participation and also announced the team raising the most pledges for the fourth consecutive year: Team Dunbar from Whitewater Region Township which raised an amazing $15,100. An honourable mention was given to Team Eganville Leader which brought in $10,450.
There was a festive atmosphere inside the arena as hundreds of team members milled around taking in many indoor activities ranging from having selfies taken with Daisy the smiling six-month-old goat brought in from the Cobden-area farm of Seryca and Josh David of Cobden. to a platoon of soldiers from Garrison Petawawa with an ambulance and MASH-style hospital tent set up where medics performed medical check-ups on Teddy Bears before distributing them to children. A mobile Tim Horton’s coffee unit from Montreal, which had been serving complimentary coffee in the Gatineau region several days last week as residents battled flood waters, also gave away coffee and other items in return for donations. The Caughey children from Pembroke, Molly, 6, and Meara, 9, were back again this year selling lemonade from their stand and accepting donations in memory of their grandfather, Sam Caughey who passed away in hospice almost two years ago. The girls were accompanied by their dad, Ian, and grandmother, Diane Caughey, a former executive director of Hospice Renfrew. Their efforts added $450 to the fund.
“The Hike For Hospice has been an amazing success. We beat all our re- cords,” Mrs. Legg told a large crowd who remained afterwards to hear the amount raised. “It was a cold, snowy, rainy day and everybody came out to support a good cause.”
One would expect the weather in early May to at least be mild, but for the second year in a row, it was miserable. This year’s conditions ranged from brief periods of sunshine to rain showers, snow and sleet and back to a bit of sunshine. Temperatures were cool as the thermometer hovered around 2C throughout the afternoon.
“This is a wonderful family event and obviously every year more and more families are taking part. People are happy to support the hospice because I think they want to give back. We couldn’t keep the doors open without a fundraiser like this.”
Hospice executive director Maureen Sullivan-Bentz said response to this year’s hike was overwhelming.
“I don’t have words to describe the feeling when you see this community come together as a true, compassionate palliative care community throughout Renfrew County,” she said. “It’s just unbelievable.”
Mrs. Sullivan-Bentz said hike organizers had no idea what to expect this year.
“Last year to hit the $100,000 mark was something we didn’t think we’d ever be able to achieve again.”
She thought the number of walkers and runners surpassed 900.
“And to surpass our goal by $40,000 is really unbelievable and it’s certainly going to help the hospice to maintain its presence in the community.”
Mrs. Sullivan-Bentz showered accolades upon the volunteer organizing team which began planning for the big event back in January, under the leadership of Judy Cobus, manager of volunteer and community development services and Mrs. Legg, committee chair and current board chair.
“Everybody got behind this and made this day happen,” she said.
Al Utronki’s Appliance and TV Sales in Renfrew has been an event supporter for many years and each year has donated a large screen TV to give away to one of the walkers. This year’s winner will be announced in an upcoming release. M. Sullivan and Sons of Arnprior provided water along the route and Renfrew OPP and Auxiliary officers assisted with trafic control at the intersections.
“Beyond my wildest expectations,” is how Mrs. Cobus reacted to the amount collected.
“We received tremendous community support today,” she said. “The numbers were way up.”