This Saturday, the Relay for Life in Prince Rupert looks to exceed fundraising expectations once again, and much of that success is due to the work by the organizers themselves.
Sheila Seidemann became involved in 2001 as a team captain when her friend from the Lutheran Church was diagnosed with cancer.
“We just wanted to support her because her treatment meant she couldn’t be around people very much,” she said.
Then in 2013, the relay in Prince Rupert was close to folding due to lack of leadership.
“None of us could bear that thought,” Seidemann said, dressed in her blue relay shirt.
Seidemann, along with two others, took on the responsibility.
In the first year she took over organizing the relay she doubled the number of participating teams from the previous year.
Since then, the organizing committee has expanded from three members to four, and this year they have 12 people volunteering.
Volunteers and dedicated fundraisers have come from her own family as well — Erin Seidemann is a prime example. As of May 17, Erin is a top fundraiser with $1,040 — exceeding her own goal. In the previous 12 relays she raised a total of approximately $10,000.
“Cancer affects two out of every five people in Canada. We’ve had friends we’ve lost, we have friends that are fighting and we have friends that are survivors,” Seidemann said on why it’s important to get her family involved.
Her friend from church, who was the original reason she signed up for the relay, is a long-term survivor. But throughout the years, she has had family and friends diagnosed with cancer, some have beat the disease, others have not.
One of her friends, Sheryl Sadorski-Gordon, who was awarded with the Canadian Cancer Society’s Medal of Courage for her exceptional courage in her public fight against cancer, succumbed to the disease last week.
“She has so much fight and such a passion to end cancer,” Seidemann said last Tuesday before hearing about her friend.
“A lot of people that are on her team and a lot of us that are on the organizing team this year, it’s for Sheryl. We just want to do this one last thing that we can do for her.”
A loonie auction put on by Sadorski-Gordon’s team, the White ‘N Teal Women of Steel, raised $33,815 for the relay and cancer research in April.
The Canadian Cancer Society has set the Prince Rupert relay goal at $110,000. Last year, the society set the goal at $90,000 and participants raised $121,000.
One of the reasons Seidemann relays is to raise more money for research and to raise the survival rate.
She wants to see more people in yellow shirts — more survivors — walking the opening lap around the track at the Prince Rupert Secondary School. The survivor lap is one of Seidemann’s favourite relay traditions, and Prince Rupert participants have made it their own.
Traditionally, only cancer survivors walk that lap, but a few years ago Seidemann said the survivors in yellow shirts rebelled and called for everyone to walk with them.
With only a few days to go before the relay, she says it’s not too late to register. All surivors are welcome to come to the Prince Rupert Middle School track for the opening ceremonies at 10 a.m., they do not have to sign up for a team.
Ten musical acts will entertain walkers throughout the 12 hour day. For more details visit the Prince Rupert Relay for Life page.