A community of all ages wearing lime green fundraising T-shirts gathered on the lower lawn of the beautiful Abbey Retreat Centre property last Sunday to celebrate the culmination of the second annual Haliburton Highlands Challenge fundraiser.
Launched in mid-July, the Haliburton Highlands Challenge is a unique fundraising event that highlights the important health benefits of getting moving in whatever ways people are able while supporting the vision and mission of Abbey Retreat Centre. Participants were invited to choose an activity and a goal (eg. bike, hike, run, walk or paddle) gather a team together, and invite family and friends to donate, knowing they would be helping Abbey Retreat Centre support people living with cancer.
“We set a goal of raising $50,000”, shared Joy Davey, chair of the Fund Development Committee for the Abbey Retreat Centre. “Mid-way through the Haliburton Highlands Challenge, it seemed that a momentum just began to grow and we are thrilled to announce that as of today, we have raised $75, 814.10.”
The afternoon celebration began with a symbolic crossing of the fundraising finish line. As the gathered crowd walked as individuals or pairs under the waving green flags, there were cheers and applause.
The brief program was filled with expressions of gratitude for all of the fundraisers, the local businesses and organizations that sponsored the fundraiser and the many generous donations that helped the Abbey Retreat Centre surpass their fundraising goal. “Thank you for telling the story of the Abbey Retreat Centre when people asked why you were doing what you were doing. Thank you for pushing yourselves and challenging yourselves to do things you hadn’t thought you could do before,” shared Barb Smith-Morrison, Executive Director.
Among the many moving stories shared at the fundraising event, Bob and Arlene Stiles, past retreat participants, also shared about the impact Abbey Retreat Centre has had on their lives as they navigated Bob’s cancer diagnosis. “As a person living with cancer, you spend so much time in survival mode that you really don’t know what you need. The Abbey Retreat Centre opened us up to practical tools to help us focus less on the disease and its terror and more on the present moment. Most importantly, we are heard at a deep level by loving witnesses and fellow sojourners.”
Arlene added, “as a caregiver, I found a place at Abbey Retreat Centre where I was validated with the same compassion as the person living with cancer. It is a place and time to put down responsibilities and let the dedicated staff take care of us.”
The Abbey Retreat Centre was born out of a vision to support people living with a cancer diagnosis. Through creating healing spaces and community, the Abbey Retreat Centre provides a variety of in-person and online retreats and programs for those with cancer and their loved ones. The retreats offer rest and renewal, companionship, and an introduction to practices that help soothe, strengthen and restore the body, mind and soul in the midst of a cancer journey. Time in nature, restorative yoga, massage, expressive arts, nutrition, music, and group conversation are all elements of what make the retreats unique and transformative.
Retreats and programs serve those in the Haliburton Highlands area as well as people across Ontario. These are offered at no cost to participants, recognizing there are already many increased expenses for individuals and families facing cancer.
Submitted by Barb Smith-Morrison