SUMMERSIDE – With the memory of loss fresh in their mind, Angela Carragher and Sheila MacMurdo look at the display outside of Prince County Hospital.
To the right of the entrance is an angel with a halo. Carragher and MacMurdo look at it and smile.
“Earlier this year, we lost a member of our staff in the physio department. She was killed in a vehicle collision in January. It was a devastating loss to our department. And we wanted to do something special to remember her in a tangible way,” explained Carragher.
The angel, a new addition to the hospital’s Light’s for Life display, was lit up on Wednesday evening marking the end of the annual fundraising campaign. Lights for Life is part of the Vital Signs fundraising initiative at Prince County Hospital, which helps pay for hospital equipment and necessary improvements. This year’s campaign will go towards the funding of the improvements for the hospital’s operating rooms.
The total raised this year was $241,377.23.
MacMurdo added, “She was more like family than a co-worker. She loved Christmas, even though she would growl that we played the music too early.”
The pair chuckled.
Carragher continued, “We all pitched in to donate to the hospital foundation in her memory. It’s very poignant to see it here. We wanted this to be a happy time. She wouldn’t want us to be sad. She would have wanted us to celebrate her.”
About 200 people turned out for the event, including Spring Keough and her children, Ava, Ben and Caden MacGregor.
“We’ve always enjoyed attending lights for life. But when Grampy Ed died in 2012, that was when I started purchasing a light to help keep his memory alive for the children,” said Keough.
Last summer, the kids built a lemonade stand to fundraise for the donation to the campaign.
“This year the kids doubled their total and were able to buy a light for Grampy Ed, their other grandfather who has since passed away, and a cousin that had recently passed.”
She continued, “What I love about this event is we are [helping others] while keeping memories alive of loved ones who have passed. It’s so important to keep their memory alive as unfortunately life goes on. Lights for Life is a wonderful event to do just that.”
Eldred Ellis also attended the lighting.
“I’ve been donating for the last half-a-dozen years or so. My wife had been in here about seven or eight years ago.
“It’s neat to know that the money given goes towards medical equipment. The staff was great during her time here. But with this support, it gives them the tools they need to continue their work in taking care of others.
Heather Matheson, president of the Prince County Hospital Foundation, which organizes the annual Lights for Life campaign, says every year is different.
“The response from the community is always a surprise. You never know what to expect. Every year we wonder if the community is still going to get behind the event.
“But once the campaign packages were sent out at the first of November, people were coming through the foundation doors and that continued until the deadline. It’s been a really good year so far.”
It seems like people are still interested in the event, she added.
“There is a remembrance and memorial aspect to it. It’s a two-fold event to the community. It’s an opportune time and it’s a meaningful time of year to remember someone close to you or to even honour someone who is still here.
“That’s the reason the event has continued to be successful.”