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Hike for Hospice returns after two-year hiatus

The COVID-19 pandemic forced the annual Hike for Hospice in support of the Maison McCulloch Hospice to take a two-year hiatus, with the event returning to Bell Park today

Rain didn’t fall too heavily on today’s parade, with the Hike for Hospice making its long-awaited return to Bell Park.

The once-annual fundraiser event for Maison McCulloch Hospice was last held in 2019, after which the COVID-19 pandemic put a damper on subsequent years’ efforts. 

Although this is the third year the Sudbury Credit Union has sponsored the event, it was the first time they’ve done so for the in-person incarnation they’ve joined others in waiting for.

“While the rain’s putting a damper on the event, we’re still optimistic that the pledge forms will come through and people will continue to support the hospice,” Sudbury Credit Union CEO Mimi Regimbal said prior to embarking on this year’s hike. 

Regimbal is also chair of the hospice’s foundation board, and said the annual fundraising event became even more important since the hospice doubled in size from 10 beds to 20.

The expansion was completed in February 2020, at which time Regimbal said they were initially unable to become fully operational due to COVID-related complications. Since that time, all 20 rooms have become available, “and staff are amazing and doing their jobs.”

The fundraising goal for today’s walk was to raise $150,000, Maison McCulloch Hospice executive director Julie Aubé told, adding that the total amount raised would be announced after the event. 

With government funding covering approximately 60 per cent of operational costs, the organization needs to raise $1.45 million per year to stay afloat, which is an increase from the pre-expansion total of approximately $1 million.

“Which is a lot of money,” Aubé said. “We have to fundraise for cleaning supplies, housekeeping staff, maintenance staff – none of that is paid for. Food, raw food, is not funded.”

Board member Jim Spencer joined Mayor Brian Bigger by leading this year’s hike.

Spencer’s wife, Christine, was a palliative care nurse at the hospice centre and was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2014. She died in hospice care in 2016. 

“The hospice has always been near and dear to my heart, and I’m very fortunate to sit on the board of directors there and see to its ongoing presence,” Spencer said prior to setting out on this year’s walk.

He relayed that his wife was “very fortunate to enjoy the benefits the hospice offers for people in their final stages, and surrounded by a great team of health-care workers … from the nursing staff to the administration, to the service staff to the PSWs.

“It’s very good for the family, too. As a family member, my children and myself could see her in a very comfortable place toward the end of her life.

“The hospice is so well-run, it doesn’t have an industrial feel or an institutional feel, it very much feels like a home.”

Bigger, whose father, Leo Josef Bigger, died in hospice care earlier this year, told today’s crowd that he has seen firsthand the good work done at Maison McCulloch Hospice. 

During today’s event, organizers took a moment to honour the approximately 430 people who have used their services and died since the previous Hike for Hospice took place in 2019.

In addition to regular stays, the hospice has programming to help people receive the care they need at home, so they can remain in their personal surroundings for as long as possible. They also offer respite care and other services.

For more information on Maison McCulloch Hospice, including how to pledge a donation, visit their official website by clicking here.

In August, the first Maison McCulloch Hospice Butterfly Release in three years took place at Science North, which raised approximately $60,000 for the organization.

Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for