It was watching one of her closest friends visit an ailing grandparent in a hospice in Calgary, that would spur 16-year-old Kia Brown to become more involved in championing the cause for Airdrie to have a hospice.

"She was like a little sister to me. I was doing research on volunteering and raising money in Airdrie and that's when I found the Airdrie [& District ] Hospice Society. Airdrie doesn't actually have a hospice yet. So, I hope that one day, enough [will be raised] that they will be able to build one in Airdrie. This will make it easier for people in Airdrie to be closer to home and closer to friends and family, instead of driving all the way out to Calgary to visit," she said.

This year, Brown raised  $2,129 for Hospice's Hike. According to, Lise Blanchette, the Board President of the Airdrie & District Hospice Society, Brown has been advocating and raising funds since she was nine years old. Blanchette added that Brown has also been a fervent supporter of the hike every year, and even though this year she was unable to attend because she happened to have other pressing matters to attend to - her own baptism, she still did a hike on her own.

Blanchette said that it is often difficult for young people to understand the importance hospices play in end-of-life care simply because it seems like such an abstract concept for many. However, she said that because Brown has watched friends go through one of the most painful moments in life, she is acutely aware of what a local hospice can mean for families.

"[Kia] has an understanding of what we're about and what we're about is we're about dignity in end of life. Our hike for hospice raises funds for [the] Compassionate Care Fund and that fund helps others with those end-of-life extra expenses," Blanchette said. "She has a lot of empathy, and it's not an elder's disease or an elderly person's issue - it's a support for everybody in the community who have this life-limiting illness that they didn't ask for." 

Blanchette said that this year's Hike for Hospice has raised approximately $4,000, but she said the final numbers are yet to be tallied.

For Brown, she said that her advocacy always leads her to fall back on one question.

" I always think of how I would feel if I had family, in a hospice and if I was far away, and it [would] be hard for me to be able to see them and visit them while they're in a hospice," she said. "That's really what got me into this - it was just trying to make it where people don't have to go so far to visit their family, or friends in a hospice. They can be closer to home."

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