OSKALOOSA — Nearly 350 people showed their support for Hospice Serenity House during the Mahaska Health Foundation Run in the Sun on Saturday, Aug. 3.

The ninth annual event brought in around $20,000 for the serenity house. In addition to the runners, more than 40 people volunteered their time. The run/walk was held at William Penn Stadium at Lacey Recreation Complex.

The overall winners of Run in the Sun were Asa Canny, of Ottumwa, with a time of 19:26; and Bailey Vos, of Sully, with a time of 23:34.

The winners won a trophy as well as a gift certificate from Brown's Shoe Fit for a pair of running shoes, with a value of up to $150.

Mahaska Rural Water was a corporate sponsor and donated $8,000 to the event.

Mahaska Health Partnership Foundation Director Cathy Stahl addressed hospice families taking part and observing the event.

"For many of you, including myself, the grief that you feel for losing a loved one, it's really raw," she said. "Please know that this event is for you and the funds that we raise are for families like yours."

Mahaska Health Chief Executive Officer Kevin DeRonde said there were more than 275 people who pre-registered for the event.

DeRonde said for the second year in a row, First Christian Church won the church challenge, with 29 registered members.  Teams were formed in memory of Terry Oaks, Dorothy Thorpe, Pam Howard, Kevin Mitrisin and Carol Hoksbergen. Other teams were formed by members of the medical group, Bank Iowa, the hospice team, the surgical services team, Mahaska Rural Water and Ajinomoto.

DeRonde also wanted to honor the hospice staff, including nurses.

"Thank you so much for the care that you provide," he said. "We really appreciate it. Our nurses have cared for over 700 patients since 2010."

DeRonde said the Hospice Serenity House was opened in 2010, thanks to nearly $3 million raised.

"We appreciate the community and support of such a great cause in our community."

Kay DeLange, Cargill vice president, had a few words.

"I was a recipient of the hospice services and I was glad to [speak today] because of the impact that it made on myself and my family in my dad's last days," she said. "I have to admit, last October, I was afraid," she said. "My dad, Duane Jager, was encouraged to look into hospice services and I was afraid of what that meant. I was afraid of the care he would receive, I was afraid of the darkness. And our family discussed and we leaned into the services that hospice has to offer and we started walking forward in the light."

DeLange said her father received nearly six months of hospice care.

"The hospice staff and nurses are angels in disguise. Until you've lived through the impact of what they can do for your family, it's really indescribable," she said. "They enabled him to be at home and live on the farm that he started from nothing and turned into something. And then was able to transition to a house of peace and comfort and enable that transition."

Everyone attending Run in the Sun was there for a reason, DeLange said.

"Perhaps we're running in honor of a loved one. A grandparent, a parent, a sibling, co-worker, a friend. Perhaps someone you know that serves in the hospice organization," she said. "Maybe some of you just want to run. But the tie that binds us today is the hospice organization and staff. And we're here in honor not only of what they have done but in service of what they will do."

Managing Editor Angie Holland can be reached at aholland@oskyherald.com and followed on Twitter @OskyAngie.