By Camille Aubin

The Hospice Society of the Columbia Valley (HSCV) recently announced a new event, The Hospice Swims the Lake, to help fund its programs throughout the year. 

COVID-19 has forced the HSCV to cancel two of its major fundraising events over the past few months. “For many years, the Butterfly Gala and the Barn Dance have been two of the major fundraising events, and due to COVID-19 last year, they had to be cancelled. These events amount 30 per cent of our annual budget. Once more this year, due to the inability to have huge gatherings, these two events were also cancelled,” Michèle Neider, HSCV executive director HSCV, explained to the Pioneer. The organization had to think outside the box to figure out new ways of raising funds.

While brainstorming for new funding methods, one of the volunteers, Vickie Walmsley, had a suggestion. She thought that her husband, Dik Walmsley and his friends could challenge themselves to swim the length of Lake Windermere and to raise money. Society volunteers immediately thought the suggestion a great idea. Neider explained that the event is a perfect way to have a fundraiser that is socially distant 

It didn’t take a lot of time or effort to convince Dik to dive into a challenge he had already achieved a few years earlier. During an interview with the Pioneer, Dik mentioned he had completed a swim across Lake Windermere way back in 2000. To say that Dik loves swimming is to put things mildly. He trains three times a week during the winter at Fairmont pools. And during the summer, Dik is fervent about his early morning dips in Lake Windermere.  Before it gets busy on the lake with the boats around, Dik, three to four times a week, crosses the lake from south to east and back. “It’s the best way to start my day,” said Dik.

The Hospice Swims the Lake will take place on July 8, and the three swimmers will jump in the water around 6 a.m. in the morning they will swim 15 kilometres across Lake Windermere from Lake Shore Campground to James Chabot beach.

To complete the traverse, Dik and the two other experienced swimmers Bruce Stroud (75 years-old), and Gerry Mumford, will switch places every twenty minutes or every full kilometre, in relay fashion. Depending on the weather conditions, the entire journey may take between four to five hours to complete. For support and safety reasons, the athletes will be followed by a boat.

Raffle tickets will be sold online at and at the Hospice Society #103-926-7 Ave. Invermere, from April 1 to July 5. They will also be available at Home Hardware every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. until July 3. You can purchase one ticket for $10 or three for $20. Only B.C. residents can buy online tickets. “The money will go towards assisting individuals in anticipatory grievance, end-of-life and bereavement support programs. The funding will also go towards supporting children and youth deal with loss,” explained Neider.

More than 40 businesses have donated prizes so far. These include four nights in a cabin on the SRL K2 Ranch (valued at $2,500), a one-night stay at Banff Springs Fairmont Hotel ($400 value) and a paddling trip on the Kootenay River ($600 value). There also are 50 other prizes available for a total value of $12,000. Michèle and the volunteers are deeply grateful for this wonderful gesture from the business owners in our community.

“The need for a successful campaign is for the Hospice to continue to provide anticipatory grief, end-of-life, bereavement support programs to anyone in the Columbia Valley who is in need. And to keep offering the Rainbow Children’s grief program. We assist families and individuals from early age on. All our programs and services are free of charge,” said Neider.

Visit for more details.