NORTH RIVER Friday nights snow couldnt have come at a better time for High Peaks Hospice. Its first ever Ski-a-thon fundraising event Saturday looked in doubt almost until the last moment. We werent disappointed with the snow, said High Peaks Development Coordinator Sunday Conine. The sun shone brightly on fresh snow that drew a large crowd at Garnet Hill Cross Country Ski Center Saturday. Fundraiser organizers hope that the crowd that came to ski went away knowing more about High Peaks mission. When people think `hospice they think its a place rather than a mission, said Conine. Our goal is to help as many terminally ill people as we possibly can. To achieve that mission, High Peaks has a presence throughout the North Country, from Glens Falls in the south and nearly to Clinton County in the north. Our census is at an all-time high, Conine said, speaking of the number of individuals being served by the not-for-profit agency. Consequently, our staffing needs are at an all-time high too. To meet the need for trained professionals in the areas of nursing, counseling, clergy and social workers, the organization holds three fundraisers each year a golf tournament, a cruise, and now a ski-a-thon to help meet the agencys $400,000 fundraising target. But more important than raising money, Saturdays event was designed to get the word out about what hospice care can do for a family that is dealing with terminal illness. The goal of hospice is to help bring about a good end of life, said Development Director Darcie Townsend. Its about freedom to enjoy the end of life, Townsend said. Some think of hospice as giving up, but its not. Its about having a good end of your journey, a good death. For that reason, Conine said, its important not to wait too long to consider seeking hospice care. The sooner the better, she said. You can have a quality of life. It allows a chance to get things in order, to get things out in the open. A person should be on hospice for months, not weeks. There are other misconceptions about hospice, Townsend said. One of the biggest is that hospice care isnt covered by insurance. It is covered, she said. Medicare, Medicaid, private insurance. They all cover hospice care and people need to know that. High Peaks Hospice doesnt turn anyone away because of inability to pay. We have a growing number of charity cases, Conine said. In order to qualify for hospice care, a patient needs to be recommended by a doctor who certifies that indeed, the patient is dealing with a terminal illness that will likely take their life within a six-month time period. Its not uncommon for patients to outlive that prognosis. We have graduates, Conine said. People who get on the program and thrive, outliving their prognosis. For more information about High Peaks Hospice and the services it offers, visit the agencys Web site at www.highpeakshospice.com.