SLIDESHOW: Hike for Hospice raises over $53,000

By Adam Brazeau 
CORNWALL, Ontario – Amber’s Angels honoured a 14-year-old girl who passed away at Hospice Cornwall a year and a half ago, by soaring to the top of the popular fundraiser.

Dwight Grant, bagpiper with the South Glengarry Pipes and Drums, led over 200 people from the centre’s parking lot on a 30-minute trek around the city’s bicycle path at the 13th Hike for Hospice Sunday (May 3).

Sandy Collette, fundraising coordinator for Carefor Hospice Cornwall, thanked the community for helping to raise $53,455.

Once again, the top individual fundraiser was Ray O’Collin. The dapper gentleman collected a whopping $7,300; his running tally is roughly $65,000.

For Tara Marsolais, like many others, the hike was a personal journey. Her daughter, Amber Hickey Brunet, spent her final days at the 10-bed palliative care home last January.

“She was one of the youngest to pass away at hospice,” said Marsolais.

Amber’s Angels raised about $2,000.

Family, friends, and one of her primary nurses (Wendy) were all there, donning white T-shirts and placards with heartfelt messages.

Amber passed away four days before she turned 15 – her wake was held on her birthday.

“She was an amazing girl,” said Marsolais.

“I was involved with the pediatric hospice in Ottawa and our hospice is beyond comparable – almost like a family, a home, not institutional-like, it’s very warm. I wouldn’t have been able to get through it without them and they continued to support my youngest daughter Abigail as well with their social work program for about six months after she passed.”

Marsolais said the lovable teen would light up the room without saying a word. Over 300 people attended her funeral.

“She never spoke her entire life, but she touched a lot of people,” she said fighting back tears.

Amber was born without an esophagus, had paralysis of the vocal cords, a lot of congenital anomalies, and was developmentally delayed; nothing you could put into really one syndrome, according to her mother.

She ultimately passed away of a terminal lung disorder.

“The hike is a way for us to give back and honour my daughter at the same time,” said Marsolais. “It’s a way of remembering her in a positive way. It’s not just a moment of grief; it’s a moment of hope. This hospice needs to stay here because it’s an amazing place.”

Since the centre only receives partial government funding, every year $500,000 has to be raised to meet its operational budget.

“The annual hike and telethon are our two biggest fundraisers,” said Collette.

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