By Terry Rogers
On Wednesday, July 10, runners and walkers gathered at Delaware Hospice for the annual Delaware Hospice 5k Run and Family Walk. The event, which was a fundraiser for Delaware Hospice, also celebrated the fifth anniversary of the center, which opened in 2008.
“People come to do the run for many reasons,” said Bev Crowl, Director of Public Relations for the center. “Some do it for physical fitness, some are regular runners and walkers, while many of the participants join the event in gratitude for the care given to their loved ones.” Ms. Crowl said that the goal was to have 300 runners, which was 100 more than ran the year before, and that with 280 pre-registrants she was sure they would surpass that goal. Estimates were that 340 participated in the walk run.
Prizes were awarded to the top male and top female runner, and special timing chips were used to collect official race times for those who were interested. Chris Stanley of Fruitland took the top male runner prize and Sarah Bushey of Harrington took the top female prize. Drawings for donated door prizes were also held at the post-event barbecue, provided by Gary Emory and the Milford Parks and Recreation staff.
“This could not be made possible without the many volunteers and staff members who put this together,” Peggy Dolby, Assistant Director of Development, said. “We had staff who worked a full day and then came to help with the event.” John Ward, Chairman of Development agreed.
“The Milford community has embraced us, and we are approaching 4,000 families served at the center in five years,” Mr. Ward explained. “In the 31 years we have been in existence, almost 43,000 families have received care from Delaware Hospice.” The services offered by Delaware Hospice go beyond end-of-life care, according to Ms. Dolby.
“We also provide services to the families, including our Transitions Program that helps those who are not at the point of needing hospice, but need resources that we can direct them to. We also have the New Hope Program, a kind of day camp for children and teenagers who have lost loved ones.” Ms. Dolby also said they like to emphasize the walk portion of the event so that those who cannot run can participate.
The Martin family were some of those who walked the event in memory of two family members who had been assisted through hospice. Carol Collins walked the event with her sister, Betty Lewis, her brother, Bob Martin and two nieces, in memory of her father, Sam Martin and her sister-in-law, Pat Martin.
“We wanted to do this because Delaware Hospice gave my dad and Pat excellent care at the end, and this just seemed like a small way to repay them for what they did.” Ms. Collins said. Other participating families echoed those sentiments.
Wearing tank tops emblazoned with “Anchors Aweigh,” the Maksimowicz family were running in memory of their grandfather, Joseph Maksimowicz, as well as a family friend, Joe Strazinski. They stated that this was a fabulous cause and they were happy to be able to repay the organization for what they did. Running with them was a friend, Kristina Bitzer, who was running in memory of her grandmother.
“I am running in memory of my grandmother,” Ms. Bitzer said, choking up as she spoke of the care her grandmother received. “One of the Marksimowicz family members is a co-worker of mine and we discussed our losses through hospice.” Ms. Bitzer said she recently became a runner, so the event allowed her to honor her grandmother and work on physical fitness at the same time. Most of the Maksimowicz family planned to run the event, while the “oldest and youngest” were walking.
“I can’t say enough about what hospice means to me,” Ms. Bitzer said. “They were very good to my grandmother and to my family.”