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Editor's note: Corrections have been made to this story.
Whether you're a competitive sailor or a laidback landlubber you'll find lots to enjoy while raising needed funds for Center for Hospice Care SECT during its upcoming regatta series.
Celebrating its 25th anniversary, last year 700 sailors, partygoers, and friends participated in the event, and organizers expect even more people this year.
Three sailing clubs will race at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, July 16, in their local waters: The Niantic Bay Yacht Club, Stonington Dinghy Club, and Thames Yacht Club. Each club will donate their racing registration fees to Hospice. Participants and the public also are invited to a cocktail party and silent auction hosted by The Niantic Bay Yacht Club that will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. on Sept. 5. Check www.hospicesect.org for updates on the cocktail party venue. Food will be donated by The Mohegan Sun. The cost is $30 in advance and $35 at the door and all proceeds benefit Hospice.
The Mystic River Mudheads will race for their Benefit Cup on Saturday, July 19, at 11 a.m. in Fisher's Island Sound. The Mudheads invite non-members to sail in the event and will waive its usual $100 entry fee in hopes that in lieu of the fee participants will make donations directly to Hospice.
The Mudheads Mega Party at 5 p.m. in the Mystic Shipyard is another opportunity to raise funds for Hospice. Open to all, the $25 ticket price includes gourmet food - also provided by Mohegan Sun, along with local restaurants - drinks, dancing to Rock 'N Soul Revue, prize drawings and auctions.
Finally, sponsoring any of the boats sailing in the regatta is a way to raise more funds. Courtney Moore and her husband, Toby Halsey, who races his 39-foot sailboat "Patriot" in the regatta, were the top fundraisers for the last several years.
"Each boat that sails can create its own website and go on Facebook and do fundraising," Moore explains.
Moore and Halsey have sailed in the regatta for the last seven years, and Moore co-chaired the event up until this year when she decided to step back from the role so that she could go out sailing.
Moore and Halsey are particularly passionate about the cause for personal reasons.
"My mother passed away in Hospice care 20 years ago, not locally, but it's how I first learned about Hospice and I thought they were amazing," Moore says. "In Connecticut, my father-in-law died six years ago (at Center for Hospice Care) and my stepmother two-and-a-half years ago. Every Hospice I've been involved with, I've been fortunate to work with a team of staff and volunteers, who have been amazingly compassionate, comforting not only the patient but the family."
HOW HOSPICE BENEFITS
Jennifer Wheelehon, Hospice events and annual appeal manager, says that the Norwich-based Center for Hospice Care serves more than 600 patients and families each year through end of life care and more than 500 additional families through bereavement services that are offered free of charge throughout southeastern Connecticut, thanks to events like the Regatta Series.
"Money raised will go to offering both individual and group bereavement counseling for both children and adults free of charge," Wheelehon explains, "and will also (enable us) to offer Hospice care to everyone, despite their ability to pay."
The funds also will help to support a new expressive arts program in the Norwich office, which incorporates pet therapy. It will expand to Mystic this fall.
"The expressive arts program is a way for children and adults to work through their grief by expressing it - whether verbally or nonverbally - through art and music," Wheelehon says. "We have an art therapist on staff who works with the kids and adults.
"We consider the whole family as who we care for," she continues. "So we're happy to be able to offer more bereavement groups and some unique programs for patients and families."
These include a Sentimental Journeys program, which Wheelehon says can include anything from doing a written history with a patient to arranging the transportation to travel one last time to the seashore or any location that was of particular importance during the person's lifetime.
We Honor Veterans is another program with a special ceremony the family is invited to that includes pinning the veteran with an American flag, saluting him or her, and giving the family a plaque to keep honoring the person's service.
"These sailing clubs are so important to us because they work hard to raise funds for us so we have the ability to touch more patients and their families and help us to get the word out about what we offer," Wheelehon says. "A regatta is a fairly unique way to fundraise, but also to raise awareness and they are so important in making that happen. She adds, "We have a number of sponsors who generously support these events as well."
For more information on Hospice SECT, visit www.hospicesect.org. For each
sailing club's fundraising links and registration forms and details, click on the website's “News & Events” tab and scroll down to “2014 Regatta Series.” You can
also register directly for the Mudhead race at www.mudhead.org.