This year’s Relay for Life took place at the on the track at Charles Hayes Secondary School last Saturday and while the total amount raised was unavailable as of press time, it was more than $55,000.
The relay is a fundraiser for the Canadian Cancer Society and the proceeds will go primarily towards cancer research and support for those who need help with housing and travelling expenses for those undergoing treatment.
According to the relay’s lead organizer, Lani McNeice, 176 people registered to walk around the Charles Hays track sometimes for up to three hours at a time. Walkers circled the track from 10 in the mourning until 10 at night. McNeice says that the amount of people who turned out for the relay was less than what it was last year, but it’s still an impressive turnout for a community the size of Prince Rupert.
The very first lap was reserved for local cancer survivors who walked to the cheers of the small crowd that gathered at the track, during the second lap the caregivers of those undergoing Cancer treatment joined in.
The day was sunny, warm and festive, and by mid afternoon a good crowd had gathered at the track. The relay also had events to keep those walking around the track and those watching or waiting their turn entertained. There was live performances by bands, face painting for the kids, some children sang and read poetry, there was a barbeque and more than a few people decided to get their heads shaved when the barber showed up.
The day ended with the luminary ceremony, where participants take one final lap around the track, which is lined with Luminary Bags congaing personal messages to someone who fought or died from cancer. McNeice says that this was her favourite event of the day.
“We say some words that express what the day means and what we hope it means to everyone who participated . . . We light the bags and everyone then takes a moment of silence and walks the track and as you walk by the begs you read the messages. It’s quite emotional, it’s amazing,” says McNeice.
McNiece says that people are very devoted to the cause of fighting cancer, she says that one elderly man phoned up out of the blue the night before the relay to ask what he could do, and ended up volunteering at the relay for the entire 12 hours despite his age.
“I think everyone is personally touched by this issue, everyone knows someone who has cancer or has fought cancer. . . Everyone is there for somebody, even if they aren’t with us. It’s our way to fight back.”