Harmon Killebrew Hospice Day at Target Field
(Fergus Falls, MN)
Without a doubt, Harmon Killebrew’s spirit for hospice lives on in the nearly 1,600 people who attended the August 29, 2015 Twins game on behalf of the 3rd Annual Harmon Killebrew Hospice Day at Target Field.
While the Twins came up short that game against the Houston Astros, everyone came up a winner for hospice. The purpose of the day is to create ongoing awareness about hospice and the support it offers. Education is key to getting people on hospice sooner and receiving optimum benefit from the many services hospice provides.
On that Saturday 22 charter buses carrying approximately 1,200 people traveled from throughout West Central Minnesota ready to cheer on the Twins and show their support for hospice. The bus riders were treated to a pre-game tail gate lunch of burgers, chips and Harmon Killebrew root beer floats courtesy of Cub Foods of Alexandria, MN.
Once at the stadium, fans watched as legendary Twins player, Tony Oliva, stood on the field during the pre-game show waiting for the 2015 Harley Davidson motorcycle bearing his name, to pass by. The one-of-a-kind bike, valued at more than $20,000 was showcased before more than 38,000 spectators prior to being raffled off later in the game.
Graphic designer, Craig Godfrey of Montevideo, MN was given the honor of riding the motorcycle during the pre-game show. Godfrey has donated his time and materials used to customize the bike for the past two years. This year’s motorcycle, a robin-egg blue Road King model with Twins’ insignia was signed by Tony Oliva himself and featured his uniform number 6.
The pre-game show included a brief slide show of Harmon’s 10-year volunteer career with hospice. For nearly a decade Harmon Killebrew visited the sick and dying. He educated himself about hospice so he could testify before congress to assist in getting hospice services certified by Medicare so they could be billable for reimbursement. Harmon’s wish was that one day everyone might know about the benefits of hospice. Harmon passed away on May 17, 2011 at the age of 74 while receiving hospice services in Scottsdale, AZ.
Nearly 3,000 tickets were sold for the motorcycle raffle. The winner of the motorcycle drawn by Nita Killebrew, Harmon’s wife, was Rhonda Uphus of Melrose, MN. The winning ticket was purchased at Moondance Jam in Walker, MN.
Nita continues to travel the country speaking about her husband and his work with hospice. Her wish is to keep Harmon’s mission of hospice awareness and accessibility alive. People do not have to die alone or in pain. Support by a team of specialists in grief counseling and symptom management is available 24-hours a day.
Hospice assists people of any age with any life-limiting diagnosis. Hospice also serves people wherever they call home. Most importantly, people should call hospice sooner, rather than later. Hospice is designed for the last 6 months of life. Unfortunately, many wait until the last days or even hours when far less can be done to help patients and their loved ones.
Walking with someone at the end of life can be difficult, but a person doesn’t have to go it alone. Talking about end-of-life wishes in advance and preparing for the inevitable can mean the difference between a good death and a family crisis. Harmon Killebrew believed people deserved to die with dignity while surrounded by their loved ones and in a place where they were at peace.
Through Harmon Killebrew Hospice Day at Target Field a broad audience is getting the message about hospice and is keeping Harmon’s hope alive. Lakeland Hospice, the coordinator of the day’s events, won the Community Impact Award from Leading Age of Minnesota (formerly Aging Services of Minnesota) in 2014.
For more information on Harmon Killebrew Hospice Day at Target Field go online to HospiceKillebrew.org. To learn more about hospice services near you, ask your medical practitioner or contact your local hospice provider.