T-shirt Fundraiser Inspired by Farm life: Ashley Van Meter is Raising Funds in Honour of her Dad

Ashley Van Meter (far right) with her mom, brother and father, Dan Van Meter, before Dan fell ill.

When Ashley Van Meter pictures her dad, she sees him heading out in his truck at sunset with the window rolled down. 

Dan Van Meter died on November 25, 2018 while in Palliative Care at St. Paul’s Hospital. His medical condition was unique and not something that could be easily treated at home on or near his farm in rural Saskatchewan, so he came to Saskatoon for his treatment.

Dan was in a lot of pain and it was a relief for him and his family when he was admitted to Palliative Care at St. Paul’s Hospital. “It was the first place in a hospital setting where we felt comfortable,” Ashley said. “The staff was really good and they were able to get his pain under control.”

He had visitors from home and Ashley and her brother were attending university in the city so they visited him every day. Ashley said she’s glad they had space for those visits while he was in Palliative Care. “When you have a family member at the end of their life, it is intimate. You don’t want all the lights and bells and whistles and busy-ness of the hospital where you spend your last time together as a whole unit.”

Going through this experience has given her a new perspective on life — and death. She’s more aware now than she ever was before about some of the challenges of end-of-life care and she wants to make a difference. “Death is as much a part of life as living itself and I don’t think shying away from it is the answer,” she said.

When she heard about the Close to Home Campaign for Hospice & End-of-life Care, she started looking into hospice care in Saskatchewan and she knew she wanted to do something to help raise money. Funds from her Hospice Fundraiser will support the Close to Home Campaign.

Although not a designer by training — she earned a degree in agricultural economics earlier this year —  Ashley found a site that lets people create and sell T-shirts online both for profit and for fundraising campaigns like Close to Home.

Her inspiration was her father’s love for his farm. Farming was Dan’s life, Ashley said: “He was talking about the farm and making decisions with my uncle right until his last day, literally on his deathbed.”

Dan wanted to see his farm again but he was just too sick, which is why it’s so important for Ashley to picture him driving off into the sunset in his truck. She wanted the shirts to reflect Dan’s connection to the farm, so she used pictures from the last crop Dan participated in. 

She hopes the Hospice at Glengarda will be the inspiration for more hospices across the province so patients can receive the specialized care they need anywhere in Saskatchewan. That way, Saskatchewan residents — and farmers like Dan — can face end-of-life close to their homes and land, surrounded by the people they love.

Click here to donate to Ashley’s Hospice Fundraiser.