The survivor’s lap looked a little different this year, compared to 2014’s Canadian Cancer Society’s Relay for Life 12-hour marathon event at the Prince Rupert Middle School track on Saturday morning.
Instead of just the lone yellow shirts donned by the survivors, walking behind the RCMP’s Honour Guard at 10 a.m. to kick off the event for a single lap, the survivors were interspersed on the track by friends, family and all kinds of supporters who walked right beside and behind them.
It was a little more crowded, but a lot less solitary, said Relay leadership chair Sheila Seidemann.
“[The survivors] felt lonely walking by themselves last year. They wanted lots of people walking with them. There’s survivors and then there’s caregivers, but lots of people throughout the community have been supportive of them, even though they’re not particularly their family.”
And that’s what Relay for Life became on Saturday – the blend of the fighters who have battled and fought for their health alongside their brothers and sisters-in-arms, all working together to find a cure for cancer.
And topping last year’s record-breaking $73,000 raised was an even greater $85,000 contributed to cancer research for 2015. That number beats the goal of $80,000 and continues to climb as last-minute totals trickle in, Seidemann added.
“I’m really glad that today is here because there’s lots to organize and lots of things that you thought were going to go one way, and then they go another … and the organizing team, 10 of us, did such an amazing job. I had a couple ladies I gave tasks to and they just ran with it. They blew me out of the water,” said Seidemann.
Food, live music, balloons and guest speakers filled the day right until 10 p.m. with the late spring sun setting behind the coastal mountains.
Tents of all colours and backgrounds lined the track and inside, the cheers and applause for the day’s heroes lifted everyone’s spirits on a day when, quite understandably, emotions could run a bit rampant.
“It’s different for everybody,” said Seidemann.
“Some survivors find this extremely emotional. … There’s going to be emotion, there’s no way around it … to be here and support all of the cancer survivors and their families – that’s the biggest goal.”