The Foothills Country Hospice held their 8th Annual Hike for Hospice on Sunday, May 5.

This year's event, dubbed the Hike for Hospice Hustle, saw the addition of a 5k run on top of the usual 2k and 5k hikes, and it seems to have successfully drawn in a wider range of participants.

While the exact attendance count is hard to pin down, the Hospice's Marketing & Communications Associate Robyn Alford came up with a ballpark estimate.

"Far more than we ever planned for, which is a great problem to have, we love that so many people wanted to come out and support. Initially, we had ordered 500 of those bib numbers that people wear on a walk or a run, and we ran out of bibs. So, I think it's pretty safe to say that we had well over 500 people joining us for the hike."

The fundraising goal for this year was $60,000, and it was well-surpassed.

Alford says the preliminary count is $81,000 raised, though donations are still coming in.

This year's top individual fundraiser was Margaret Thiessen, who managed to raise over $10,000.

The 82-year-old High Riverite started fundraising back in March, going door-to-door to homes and businesses across town to garner donations for the hospice.

Thiessen has been participating in the Hike since 2019 and says her motivation for it started about two years prior to that.

"I was kind of at a loss in my life. I had lost the love of my life, Leo, and also a beloved niece. She passed in 2017, Leo was in 2018. I just, like I say, was at a loss. I was reading the paper and I saw the advertisement for the walk, and I thought, 'You know, nothing makes me feel better than to help someone else." 

She knew she'd made the right decision as soon as she met the people who make the hospice the place it is.

"Before I signed up for the first walk in 2019, I went over and one of the sweet staff members took me for a tour of the building. And the one thing that stood out in my mind when I walked through the doors was the warmth of the facility... The staff is phenomenal. All of them are phenomenal."

This was Thiessen's final year participating in the event, though she plans to keep contributing to it.

"This was my last walk, and the way I put it is I'm going to pass the reins over to a younger person that I can turn around and sponsor... It's so rewarding. When I was in the midst of it all I didn't even think about how tired I was or how many hours I'd spent out doing it. All I could think was that I was driven to do it."

The top contributors and donation links can be seen on the Hike's event page, and more information on the Foothills Country Hospice can be seen on their website.