This year, they’re walking for two.
The family of Bill Raymond and Rick Haynes will pay tribute to their loved ones next month at Hike for Hospice, an annual fundraiser that brings together more than a dozen relatives of the late Tri-City residents.
For the past six years, the family has taken part in the Hike to remember Raymond, a retired butcher from Coquitlam who lost his battle with cancer while at the Crossroads facility in Port Moody in 2012.
They gather on the anniversary month of his death to honour the 84-year-old man’s legacy, and to thank the hospice staff and volunteers, who helped during his final days, and raise money for the centre’s palliative care.
Granddaughter Melanie Ernst, a Terry Fox secondary graduate, said the family meets in the morning for the Hike — sporting shirts that read “In Loving Memory of Bill Raymond” — then follows up with a lunch reunion to break bread and recount to his eight great-grandchildren Raymond’s wit and charm.
“It seems like every year we hear new stories about him,” said Ernst of Raymond, who was active with the Royal Canadian Legion branch in Coquitlam, and with the Elks. “I remember him as being such a happy guy, always with a smile on his face and a joke up his sleeve.”
Ernst’s uncle died too quickly to receive hospice care. In March, Rick Haynes passed from pancreatic cancer after a late diagnosis. “He was with us on each Hike,” she said. “Now, we’re thinking about both of them.”
Ernst’s company donates to the Hike for Hospice, too, giving a rustic wooden sign with an inspirational quote to the society to use as a door prize.
It’s the least the family can do, she said. “The people at the hospice are so selfless. They have do deal with incredible heartache nearly every day and they’re so uplifting. This is our way of saying thanks.”
Online registration for the 17th annual Hike for Hospice is now open. Sponsored in part by The Tri-City News, the 5-km trek takes place — rain or shine — on Sunday, May 5 at 10 a.m. at the Hyde Creek recreation centre (1379 Laurier Ave., Port Coquitlam). Strollers and leashed dogs are permitted. Visit hike4hospice.ca.