BAINBRIDGE – Given the disparity surrounding the tough issues of death and dying, the topic is often taboo in most circles and sadly, many families fail to realize that the loss of a loved one can be seized as an opportunity to celebrate life rather than dwelling over the void.
Fortunately for the benefit of local Hospice patients, this was not the case for a local man who passed away nearly seven years ago – who's legacy continues to give back year after year.
Dan Elwood, a resident of the town of Norwich and graduate of the Bainbridge-Guilford Central class of 1980, was a primarily healthy man who rarely was ill. As a corporate pilot, Elwood flew across the U.S. routinely and loved his job, family and life.
Fickle as the hands of fate often are, Elwood would be diagnosed with stage four colon cancer in March of 2007. A decision was made to try Chemotherapy, but when the first series of treatments failed to yield an optimistic prognosis, Elwood made yet another hard decision to end the therapy that was “poisoning him.”
“Dan was diagnosed on March 8 and passed away on August 23 – we didn't have a lot of time,” explained Dan’s wife Kathie Elwood, who has worked as a registered nurse at several area hospitals for nearly 30 years. “Having Hospice involved, I didn't have to be his nurse. I was able to step back and be his wife – which let us focus on being a family and enjoying our last months together,” she continued.
With the unwavering assistance of Hospice and family support, Elwood planned on living out his last days on his own terms surrounded by his loved ones and close friends. He was taken by the disease a mere six moths after his initial diagnosis.
In memoriam to the late Elwood and also to honor the giving nature of the local Hospice organization that offered comfort to Elwood and his family, a trial 5k Memorial race was conceived and initiated by Bainbridge-Guilford class of 1980 in 2007.
The outpouring of support and community involvement from that first year would lay the groundwork to incorporate the fundraiser into the annual event, now in it's seventh year.
With an emphasis on fun and celebration rather than competition, the day is centered around remembering Dan's life. The 5k course is laid out to pass by the home of the late Elwood's parents, a place where Elwood grew and thrived as a child.
With that in mind, (Kathie) Elwood indicated that the event also caters to some more serious runners who travel the local 5k circuit.
The event also boasts a one-mile walking course for those looking to show support and mingle in a less competitive form.
“The event was conceived by some of Dan's classmates from Bainbridge who approached me and asked if I would like to be a part of it, and of course I obliged,” said Elwood. By all accounts the dialogue between Elwood and race organizer Mary-Lou Winn, a classmate of the late Elwood, is transparent and productive. Elwood indicates that her involvement in the event is in organizing the continental breakfast that is served following the race as well as getting family members on board and promoting the event by any means possible.
Kendall Drexler, Development and Clinical Outreach Coordinator at Chenango County Hospice indicated that all of the proceeds from the event are directly donated to the local organization and utilized 100 percent in Chenango County. According to Drexler, 89 percent of costs are reimbursed by Medicare, which translates to an average funding discrepancy of approximately $36 per day per patient.
“Fundraising is a staple of the quality service that Hospice provides for those needing palliative care in Chenango County, and events like the Dan Elwood Memorial provides much needed funding to assist in maintaining our service to the community,” said Drexler.
“A lot of people have partnered to make this a huge success, and I know the Dan wold approve of what we're accomplishing here,” said Elwood.
The shotgun start is scheduled for 9 a.m. sharp on Saturday, May 24 at the General Clinton Park located at state Route 7 just east of the Village of Bainbridge.
Pre-registration cost is $18 prior to the day of the event or for $22 at the gate the day of. Registration forms can be found online at canoeregatta.org/download.htm. For more information, contact organizer Brenda Parsons at 967-7373 or 967-8888.