Why we “Walk for Dignity”

You’d be hard-pressed to find a more determined pair than Martha Lubaroff and Mary Child in 1979. Members of both of their families had recently become seriously ill and that experience motivated them to make quality hospice care available to anyone who needed it. The women recruited a task force of community members and charged them with finding a way to provide practical, compassionate support to enhance quality of life for terminally ill people.

With widespread community support over the following years, they created a board of directors, hired a medical director and patient care coordinator, and trained their first class of volunteers. In March 1983, they cared for their first patient.

What started as a small group of volunteers quickly flourished into a certified not-for-profit hospice organization. Reimbursement from insurance covers most of Iowa City Hospice’s expenses, but they also offer programs that go above and beyond Medicare’s hospice requirements – things like music therapy, targeted bereavement programs and special volunteer programs. Donor support makes these programs possible, allowing Iowa City Hospice to be an innovative leader among hospice organizations.

Fun runs and walks are such a common fundraising method today that almost everybody has a few old 5K t-shirts in their closet. But that hasn’t always been the case. In 2000, Iowa City Hospice created one of the first events of its kind in the Iowa City community: The Walk for Dignity.

The Walk usually starts in the early afternoon on a sunny spring Sunday. People start showing up a few hours earlier to drop of the donations, chat with hospice staff and volunteers, and take part in the memorial service. Some years there’s been a dinner in the evening. Other times there’s been a musical performance before the start.

But the format isn’t what keeps people coming back each spring.

Iowa City Hospice serves around 600 patients every year. Multiply that by 35 years and you suddenly have a large community of people who’ve been impacted by hospice at intimate and pivotal points in their lives. The Walk for Dignity gives that community a chance to come together, honor those who are no longer with us, and provide means for others to receive the same care.

We hope you are able to join us this year for our 19th Annual Walk for Dignity on Sunday, April 22 at Willow Creek Park. For information on the day’s activities, walk route, fundraising, and team registration, click here. We appreciate your support in making compassionate hospice care available in our seven-county region for years to come.