Relay for Life celebrates 10 years
by Phil Ambroziak
It was both a celebration of survival and a tribute to the memories of those who have lost their lives to cancer.
Meadow Lake’s 10th annual Relay For Life event kicked off June 1 at the Meadow Lake and District Arena. Designed as a means of raising funds for cancer research and other cancer-related causes, the 12-hour event attract close to 100 participants, more than 75 volunteers and raised $25,318.51.
“The Relay For Life (which is held in a great number of communities across Canada) is the major Canadian Cancer Society fundraiser put on each year,” explained Stefanie Harrington, chair of the Meadow Lake Relay For Life committee. “The money collected goes to a variety of things – it’s not just for cancer research as many people tend to believe. It also funds such things as support groups for people already living with cancer.”
Although she’s never been diagnosed with the disease, Harrington understands it is something that could develop in anyone at any time. She has also had family members who were diagnosed with cancer, and truly believes the smallest of efforts can help make a big difference.
“The first person I met when I moved to town was a cancer survivor and a member of the Relay For Life organizing committee,” Harrington said.
“She was talking about it one day and I told her I was interested, so she signed me up. I have lost a member of my family to cancer and I also have a family member who is a cancer survivor. Cancer has already touched my life and if it were to ever happen to me or my kids, I would like to know that support system would be there for us.”
This year’s Relay For Life got started with a survivors’ lap around the arena floor. Harrington describes this part of the event as one of the more emotional ones, as cancer survivors get things underway before being joined by the 11 registered Relay For Life teams. Among the survivors to participate in this year’s relay were Carl Timmer and his mother, Lil. Timmer, who is now cancer-free, was diagnosed with leukemia when he was 16. His mother, meanwhile, was diagnosed with breast cancer five years ago.
“Without the money raised from events such as this, there would be a lot fewer survivors,” Carl Timmer remarked.
Another emotional aspect of the evening, Harrington said, was the luminary ceremony. During this time, lit candles were placed within paper bags featuring the names of family and friends whose lives were lost to cancer.
“Once the bags were lit, the whole track began to glow,” she added.
Throughout the entire relay, teams were required to have at least one member completing laps at all times. Other attractions featured during the relay included entertainment, face painting, a scavenger hunt, seminars, crafts, theme laps and more before wrapping up early June 2 with a pancake breakfast.
As for the Relay For Life’s continued success in Meadow Lake, Harrington believes it’s because the battle against cancer is a cause so many people can get behind.
“Cancer is a disease that’s touched everyone’s life in some way,” she said. “That’s why it’s so easy to find volunteers for an event like this. We’ve lost so many significant members of our community to cancer in the last two years alone, and we’re a small community. It’s an event such as this that can help make a difference in everyone’s life, and it’s great to see so much support from the community.”