Hearts for Hospice 5K keeps legacies alive

Ethel Dunk was known for her endless energy, so it seemed only fitting to her family and friends to honor her memory to form a team called “Ethel’s Energizers” to raise money at the annual Hearts for Hospice 5K.

Dunk occupied many roles in life.

For Ethel's Energizers, the Hearts for Hospice 5K is a way to keep alive the memory of Ethel Dunk, who was a mother, grandmother, wife, sister, aunt and friend. (Photos courtesy of Keth Luke)

For Ethel’s Energizers, the Hearts for Hospice 5K is a way to keep alive the memory of Ethel Dunk, who was a mother, grandmother, wife, sister, aunt and friend.
(Photos courtesy of Keth Luke)

She was a wife, a mother, a grandmother, sister, aunt and friend.

Cindy Walker and Barbara Russell, both of Land O’ Lakes, are Dunk’s daughters and co-captains of the team which was named to honor Dunk’s energetic spirit.

Both women applaud the work that hospice does to help families.

Walker is a nurse.

Because of the help of Gulfside Hospice, she was able to put that nursing role aside, so she could relate to her mom as her daughter.

Russell said the team that came in to provide assistance included aides, nurses, social workers and clergy.

It made a real difference, Russell said, noting she remembers talking to a clergy member who asked her: “If you had one last thing to say to your mom, what would you say?”

It helped both her and her mom to say things to each before her mom’s passing, Russell said.

Both women said they decided to raise money to help Gulfside Hospice because it needs the community’s support.

‘Participating in the Hearts for Hospice 5K is a way to keep our mom's legacy alive while helping others care for their loved ones,’ said Barbara Russell, one of Dunk’s daughters and team co-captain.

‘Participating in the Hearts for Hospice 5K is a way to keep our mom’s legacy alive while helping others care for their loved ones,’ said Barbara Russell, one of Dunk’s daughters and team co-captain.

“The patient never gets a bill,” said Walker, who also serves as a volunteer, but not in the capacity of a nurse.

People often have the wrong impression of what hospice is, Russell said. “Everybody thinks of it as death,” she said. “It’s just so much more than that. It’s just a loving community.”

Dunk’s family became acquainted with Gulfside Hospice in 2014, when Dunk’s illness became too much for the family’s health care professionals.

“We have developed a bond with our Gulfside Hospice family. We may have lost our mom, but we gained friendships and support,” Russell said.

After Dunk’s death in 2014, the family decided to honor her by joining Gulfside Hospice’s fundraising community.

They signed up for what was then called Hike for Hospice, but is now known as the Hearts for Hospice 5K, and they launched Ethel’s Energizers team.

The team has grown every year.

This year, 25 people will walk as part of the team in honor of Dunk, ranging in age from 1 to 85.

It’s a fitting tribute, Russell said. “Hospice is not about giving up; it’s about celebrating the end of life.”

This year’s 10th annual Hearts for Hospice 5K, presented by Bouchard Insurance, will take place on Nov. 6 at Rasmussen College, 18600 Fernview St., in Land O’ Lakes. Registration and check-in begin at 7:30 a.m., and the 5K walk, run and one-mile fun run start at 8:45 a.m.

To register for the event, or create a team and fundraise like Ethel’s Energizers, visit HeartsForHospice5K.org. For more information, call Chelsea O’Keefe at (727) 845-5707.

Published November 2, 2016

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