Sailing and hospice: more connected than you think

by Teresa (Treez) Decker, Lake Norman Hospice Regatta Sailor and Supporter

In 1982, a group of folks in the Annapolis, MD area decided to host a sailing regatta as the focal point of a fundraising event for the local hospice organization.  The event, known as Hospice Cup, is now in its 31st year, and has (to date) provided $6.5M in funding to Hospice of the Chesapeake.

Some of the same sailors who were involved with Hospice Cup in the early years (more specifically, a sailor named Virginia Brown) realized the value of such events—not just in terms of raising funds, but also in raising awareness of hospice and palliative care within the community—and so created an organization whose goal it has been to facilitate the creation and continuation of similar sailing events throughout the United States and parts of Canada.  This organization is called the National Hospice Regatta Alliance.

So, what has this got to do with Hospice & Palliative Care Charlotte Region?  Well, in 2000, HPCCR (then Hospice at Charlotte) became aware of this organization and the concept of “hospice regattas”, as they are called, and decided they wanted to give this new type of fundraiser a try.  They approached the Lake Norman Yacht Club (LNYC) with a proposal to host a regatta, the proceeds of which would benefit Hospice & Palliative Care Lake Norman.  The LNYC board of directors accepted the challenge of a new event, and agreed to take responsibility for the actual regatta, and asked Blair and Margaret Boggs (one or two readers may have heard of them!) to organize it.  HPCCR would complement with the event management piece, and thus was born the now 12-year-old partnership that grows more successful every year.  That first event, held in 2001, netted $4,314, but since then, the event, now combined with the Regatta Party, has raised over $500,000 for Hospice & Palliative Care Lake Norman!

That’s not the only benefit, though.  Each year, new participants join the Lake Norman Hospice Regatta & Party, and not only get to race, but hear a little bit about hospice and palliative care—some for the first time.  And little by little, we increase awareness of this fundamentally important service.

Now, a little bit about me.  My name is Teresa (“Treez”) Decker, and I’ve been sailing since 1974.  I’ve sailed on Lake Norman since 1985, and have been a member of Lake Norman Yacht Club since 1995.  I was one of those folks who had never heard of hospice care—until 1999, when my father was dying of cancer.  However, I was so moved by the dignity and care afforded my father during the last week of his life that I was immediately in favor of this thing called a “hospice regatta” when we had the first one in 2001.

As often happens, one thing led to another, and then to another.  First, I joined the LNYC board, responsible for racing.  Then, in the same year, I got to crew for our very first hospice regatta champion at the 3rd annual Hospice Regattas National Championship.  That was the first time I represented our regatta at the National Hospice Regatta Alliance members’ meeting.  Within another year, I was co-chairing the Lake Norman Hospice Regatta, then chairing it for several years, and now I’m assisting with it. 

At that first championship, I met the great lady who started the Alliance, Virginia Brown, and one of her ‘cohorts’, fellow Alliance board member Jean Kluttz.  They inspired me to stay involved, and for the next few years, whether I was racing as or for Lake Norman’s champion or just cheering them on, I came to the championship to attend the members’ meeting.  I guess I attended once too often, because in 2008, I was asked to join the NHRA board, which I did in November 2009, as Secretary.  I moved on to Vice-President in 2012.

So, back to raising awareness of hospice and palliative care.  Each year, the organizing committee for the Lake Norman Hospice Regatta sets both fundraising and participation goals for the event.  We try to figure out how to raise more money, but we also try to figure out what will bring more people to the regatta.  We discuss the messages we want to provide to the racers that will help them realize the value of providing funds, but we also want to help them understand the types of services available through hospice care and palliative medicine when they or loved ones are approaching end of life.

It’s about spreading the word.

This weekend, I’ll be sailing in the 12th annual event—and with luck, will once again qualify to represent our regatta at the Hospice Regattas National Championship next spring in St. Petersburg, FL.  I get to help spread the word about a cause which I passionately support, while fulfilling my passion for sailing!  Now, how cool is that?

The Lake Norman Hospice Regatta takes place this weekend, June 8-10.  For more information, please visit the event page on our website or contact Nancy Cole, HPCCR Manager of Special Events.

Explore posts in the same categories: advocacy, awareness, hospice, Hospice & Palliative Care Lake Norman, Lake Norman Hospice Regatta, special events

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