Photo courtesy Jacob Fuhrer

HELENA – Hundreds braved the cold temperatures Thursday night to celebrate and remember loved ones through a tree-lighting ceremony outside the Helena Civic Center.

The 24th annual Light A Life Event and Tree Lighting is organized by St. Peter’s Hospice, a nonprofit hospice program serving the Helena area. The event featured posters inside the Civic Center with names of those who have utilized hospice care as well as family members and friends who donated to the cause in honor of loved ones.

The hospice care program provides end-of-life care to anyone who needs it, regardless of how much money they have.

St. Peter’s Hospital said as of December, they’ve received over 1,000 donations totaling more than $70,000.

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“This is our only fundraiser for the year,” Lynne Grant, Hospice Volunteer Coordinator, said. “It gives people an opportunity to learn about hospice and also to provide financial support.”

Ron Waterman, who spoke at the Light a Life Event, lost his wife Mignon to pancreatic cancer in April of this year. He said St. Peter’s Hospice Care is what allowed his wife to live her finals day at home, where she wanted to be. Hospice also coordinated care for Mignon when she and Waterman traveled the west coast before she died.

“This is an opportunity, especially for people who have lost a loved one and this is their first holiday without them, to come together and just honor and remember that person and incorporate them into the holiday season,” Grant said.

The posters from Thursday’s event will be on display in the lobby of St. Peter’s Hospital, the lights on the 80-foot tree outside the Civic Center will be turned on every night until Jan. 1.