Mill Bay’s Judith Belton runs for more than just fitness. She runs to help. It all began after she lost her friend Lucy Child to cancer.
“One of the feelings you have when someone you care about dies, is helplessness. I found that exercise helped my grief process,” Belton explained. “I also found that my ideas for ‘doing something’ to make something good out of a grievable situation, often came to me while running or meditating,” she added. “I am very conscious when I am running that I am fortunate to be able to do it. I am alive. I am healthy. I am so lucky.”
Since April 2018 the Citizen paper carrier has run at least 45 minutes every day, regardless of the weather. The fitness aspect is a bonus, but Belton is also doing it to raise money.
“In the past I have raised money in this way for a refugee project in Victoria and for Cowichan Valley Hospice Society. This year I wanted to specifically support the creation of a hospice house in the Cowichan Valley,” she said. “While I run, I think a lot about friends and family members who have died, some with the help and support of hospice, and others who have not had that at the end of their lives. I would really like to see hospice house services available to all in the Cowichan Valley in the near future. That’s why I am running.”
Death is a journey we all take, she said.
“We need such a unit so that people who are in the last stages of their lives, and can’t be at home, can receive appropriate end of life care, surrounded by volunteers who are trained in comforting and accompanying them on their journey,” she said.
Through her Facebook page and other means, Belton has thus far raised $275 or her $466 goal.
Cowichan Hospice executive director Gretchen Hartley said the size of the donation doesn’t always measure the importance of its impact.
“There are so many ways that a fundraiser such as Judith’s can impact the lives of people at Cowichan Hospice House; something that immediately comes to mind is the children’s room,” Hartley said. “Within Cowichan Hospice House there is a designated room for youth and children to gather, play, or just to decompress. A fundraiser like Judith’s could go towards buying the books in that room – while the price tag isn’t that big, the impact is huge! Spending quality time together is one of the most important things when a loved one is dying. If the money Judith’s run raises helps just one child snuggle up to their loved one with a good book, well…. That’s a job well done. Sometimes the smallest details can make the biggest difference.”
That’s really, in essence, the mission of Cowichan Hospice House: to provide a place to live well at the end of life, Hartley said.
“That mission extends beyond the individual facing the end of their lives and really touches the family too, so having thoughtful spaces and ways for family members young and old to connect is important. Gifts big and small can make this happen, and together as a community, Cowichan has really stood up and said ‘Yes, we need this. Yes, we want this’ and ‘Yes, we will make this happen together.’”
Currently there is just $500,000 remaining of the $10 million dollar goal, and while there is still work to be done, Hartley said that number speaks to the community’s commitment “very clearly.”
In addition to ongoing fundraisers, the 12th annual Golf for Cowichan Hospice tournament is coming up on June 21. In the meantime, search for “Judith Maureen Belton” on Facebook to help her reach her fundraising goal, or donate directly to the Hospice Society and let them know Judith Belton sent you.