This year’s Burnaby Hospice Society Hike on May 5 is dedicated to Barbara Lussier.
“People often said that Barbara was the hike,” says Mellanie Wakeland, Office Coordinator of Burnaby Hospice, speaking about Barbara Lussier, who passed away in November 2018. Barbara became involved with the Burnaby Hospice Society in 1999 after her twin sister died of cancer there. “It’s very common for people to start volunteering with us after they have experienced our services. They feel this emotional connection and sense of gratitude – the desire to pay it forward,” Wakeland explains.
Barbara helped with every aspect of the hospice’s work, from the thrift shop to direct client support, but the bereavement walking group and hike really were her babies. “The bereavement walking group has met weekly for over 14 years and it’s a very supportive group,” says Wakeland. “The lead volunteers and those grieving the loss of a loved one walk around Deer Lake and talk about anything and everything. The group offers emotional support, physical exercise and a social connection while walking, or the option of chatting over coffee when the walk is completed.”
Barbara Lussier volunteered at the hike from the beginning, at the very first walk. At this year’s hike her memory will be celebrated. “The hike is a3km or 5km hike, walk or meander around Central Park – a family and pet-friendly event,” says Curtis Lee, the Society’s General Manager of Operations. “We have a barbecue, silent auction, entertainment and activities for the kids. There’s a fun, upbeat atmosphere – a chance to visit, connect with other members of the community, and commemorate the ones we’ve lost, including Barbara.”
The fundraising hike has been an annual fixture for the past 17 years. Participants are a mix of community members and those who have lost a love one at the hospice or Burnaby Hospital, and many walk in honour of a loved one. There’s a $25 registration fee and many participants get pledges too, though that’s not obligatory. All funds go directly towards supporting awareness of the Hospice Society and palliative care program.
The Burnaby Hospice Society is a volunteer-driven, not-for-profit organization. Its annual fundraising hike takes place on May 5 at Central Park. Find out more or donate at http://burnabyhospice.org/events/hike/.