No one in Cedric Lewis’s family has needed hospice care, but for the past 15 years hospice has touched his life.
Each of those years, the lifelong sailor raced the annual Hospice Cup charity regatta to help raise awareness of hospice care. Last year, Lewis and racing partner Fredrik Salvesen won.
“You can’t really go more than one person away and find someone who hasn’t used hospice care,” the Annapolis resident said. “It really is an amazing way for people to pass with dignity and without pain.”
The Hospice Cup
Billed as America’s largest racing regatta, Hospice Cup is one of several area races designed to raise money and awareness for medical and support care. With causes ranging from leukemia to the physically- and developmentally-challenged, the events have all found successful homes in Maryland.
A hospice is a program or facility that provides care to those in the final stages of a terminal illness. Care focuses on comfort and quality of life. Bereavement support is also available after a loved one dies.
Today, hospices can be found nationwide. But 30 years ago, when Hospice Cup began, hospice treatment was an “unknown entity,” said Karma O’Neill, executive director of Hospice Cup, Inc.
In 1982, Virginia Holland Brown, a member of the Development Committee for Hospice of Northern Virginia, Inc., was searching for a unique way to raise money for the hospice. After talking with Josephine Knoerr Erkiletian, a St. Michaels property owner, and Al Van Metre, a local sailor and businessman, the charity sailing regatta was born.
Other hospices throughout Virginia, Maryland and Washington D.C. quickly joined the effort. Since its inception, Hospice Cup has raised more than $8 million to support hospice programs.
Most hospices use the event as a “springboard” for their individual fundraising, O’Neill said. Others, like Talbot Hospice Foundation in Easton, rely on the event to help fund their programs.
At Talbot, Hospice Cup money goes toward programs like Pathways – a pre-hospice program providing non-medical support services to Talbot County residents with life-limiting illnesses.
“It’s a wonderful event to be a part of because it spreads the word about hospice, which is a difficult subject for a lot of people,” said Kate Cox, associate director of the Talbot Hospice Foundation. “We’re happy to be a part of it.”
In addition to Talbot, hospices benefiting from this year’s event are Capital Hospice, Chester River Home Care and Hospice, Hospice of the Chesapeake and Montgomery Hospice.
Hospice Cup XXX kicks off September 24 at the mouth of the Severn River. The race is managed by Shearwater Sailing Club and assisted by Storm Trysail Club Chesapeake Station. It is sanctioned by the Chesapeake Bay Yacht Racing Association (CBYRA). A special Hospice Class is available for novice racers. Overall, organizers expect about 100 boats to participate.