Chris Culkeen addresses the crowd at the Care Dimensions Walk for Hospice.
I’ve always strongly believed in giving back to my community, so when a friend of mine asked me in 1997 if I would donate a few hours of my time as master of ceremonies at the Walk for Hospice
in my hometown of Danvers, MA, I immediately said yes.
Since then, I’ve been the MC at the Care Dimensions Walk for Hospice fundraiser every year and am looking forward to replaying that role this year.
Volunteering for the Walk for Hospice
Having lived in Danvers most of my life, I was aware of Hospice of the North Shore (which later became Care Dimensions), and its mission. I volunteered at my first Walk for Hospice 19 years after the nonprofit organization had formed, so it already had helped many local individuals and families dealing with advanced illness. We sent the walkers off that day with a ceremony in a little parking lot in downtown Danvers. All the staff members and volunteers I met were great to work with and so appreciative. It felt good knowing that in my small way, I was able to help.
Over the years, the Walk moved to Endicott Park, and then to its current location, St. John’s Preparatory School. The Walk is held in early fall, and although some things change, the walkers’ dedication does not. One year the rain was so intense, it was like someone had opened a fire hose on the crowd. It seemed we had just as many walkers as the previous year, however. It’s so inspiring to see how committed people are to this event. I always visit the tribute wall to read the names and messages that walkers leave there to memorialize their loved ones. It’s a moving experience.
Hospice becomes personal
In 2010, the Walk for Hospice became personal for me. My mom had become seriously ill and in July of that year, she moved to the Kaplan Family Hospice House
. I knew that she would get excellent care there. She died peacefully.
I had mixed emotions at the Walk that year. I was thinking of my mom but realized what a beautiful event the Walk is. Everyone there had a story like my own. I could truly see the power of this common bond as we came together for the Walk. I continue to see it every year.
When you think of what we’re memorializing at the Walk for Hospice, it’s a difficult moment. It’s sad to think about the death of someone you love, but everyone shows up at the Walk with a completely positive outlook and attitude. Teens do group dances, and teams take photos with fun shirts that honor their loved ones. I love the great upbeat spirit of the day. Out of darkness comes light sometimes.
I hope you will join me at this year’s Walk for Hospice.