Not all the day’s moisture came from the skies on Saturday at the Prince Rupert Middle School track.
There were few dry eyes as the time had come for organizers and participants as the Canadian Cancer Society’s 2014 Relay for Life kicked off and each one knew how much a day like this meant.
“In terms of building a community, the best thing [one can do] is to be here and support all these people that have been touched by cancer,” said Relay organizer Sheila Seidemann at the school.
“The money raised will go to help support the people living with cancer and their families and the concrete [use] of the funds will help the Kordyban in Prince George that last year served 70 Prince Rupertities. The money also goes towards research and we all want a cure and we all want prevention.”
Saturday’s event kicked off with the survivor’s walk, which was eventually opened up to both survivors and supporters. The cancer-beaters were fitted in yellow t-shirts while the general entrants wore white.
“Without them we couldn’t do this. They’re the ones raising funds and doing pledges and doing bake sales,” said Seidemann, who is participating for a close friend who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2001 and has been cancer-free since.
More than 230 people and 31 teams took part in the Relay, up from 224 participants and 25 teams from last year.
In total, the event raised $73,000 for the Canadian Cancer Society, which beat 2013’s $66,000 figure.
“It was our best year ever,” said organizer Cathy Quane.
Pink tutus and ribbons were strewn across people’s outfits and the Metlakatla First Nation drummers and dancers performed a piece as the walkers circled the track in the morning. Also included in the day’s festivities were a Zumba demonstration, dragon dancers and speaking engagements by oncologist Judy Rea and cancer survivor Iain Cullen, among others.
Seidemann represented St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, one of the top donators for this year’s Relay The team received an award from the Canadian Cancer Society for their dedication to the eradication of cancer and their work to increase prevention.
“It’s the community champion award,” said Seidemann.
“It’s for fundraising, but it’s not just about fundraising, it’s about team spirit and we sit in our grossly under-decorated tent and we cheer for everyone that goes by,” she said motioning to the elaborate, balloon-fitted tent.
“It’s a small town, we know a lot of people but some we don’t, and we cheer for them anyway. We’ve been a team for a long time.”
Other top donors for the event included the groups,
“Jazzy Dragons”, “Kicking Every Cancer – Walking for Miracles”, “Epic Squad” and “Ridley Coal Strollers”.
To prepare for the event, Seidemann, Quane and the other organizers reached out to previous attendees via phone and asked them if they’d like to take part in this year’s event.
“Just to make that personal connection that email doesn’t do, and word of mouth is just incredible. I want to thank all of the volunteers,” said Seidemann.
“They’re here for the day and they’ve said ‘do with me what you will’, which is great. We couldn’t do it without them,” she added.