Relay organizers look to raise $127,900

Dave Mathieson
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AMHERST - Whether on the frontlines or behind the scenes, at this very moment entire battalions of foot soldiers are fighting the good fight against cancer and if you want to join the battle all you have to do is gather up some friends or co-workers, raise a bit of money, pitch a tent, throw on some sneakers and have the time of your life by participating in the Relay for Life.

The Canadian Cancer Society campaign officially kicked off last week and people are already signing up their 10-person teams for the early June event.

Forty teams participated in last year's relay and this year the bar has been raised even higher.

"This year we are hoping to have 45 teams for a total of 450 people," Canadian Cancer Society district co-ordinator Sharon Bristol said.

The overnight event takes place at Rob Centennial Park in Amherst starting on Friday, June 6, at 7 p.m. and ends at 7 a.m. the following morning.

A track is set up for the relay and teams pitch their tents inside the track. The community they create is called Tent City.

All that's needed to get active in the community is a $10 registration fee and each individual is asked to raise $150.

"A lot of people raise more than that but $150 is the challenge we put before them," Bristol said. "In this community last year our participants raised an average of $237 per person."

When you factor in the business and corporate donations and the money raised by the selling of the luminary's, the event raised approximately $114,000 last year.

"This year we set our goal at $127,900," Bristol added.

What are luminaries?

"The luminary's are candles we put inside bags that we light," Bristol said. "We place the luminary's around Tent City on the inside and outside of the track."

Luminary's cost $5 and are placed along the track in honour or in memory of somebody who is either fighting cancer or who has lost their battle with cancer.

"Every luminary represents somebody from this community," Bristol added.

This year she hopes they will sell 2,500 luminaries to place around the track.

Amherst mayor Jerry Hallee was on hand for the kick off. He has lost two sisters to cancer. One passed away when she was only 44-year's old and the other when she was only 60-years old and he can't say enough about what the Canadian Cancer Society has done, and continues to do, to help people who suffer from the cancer.

"Some people who have cancer feel helpless and alone and they meet an organization like the Canadian Cancer Society and suddenly they are not alone and they have help," Hallee said. "This event really hits the heart, it's a tremendous thing for the community."

Bristol agrees.

"Without the support of the Relay for Life and the support of the people in the community we would not be able to offer the programs we do," Bristol added. "So a huge thanks to everybody who contributes, and continues to contribute, to make this a huge success."

Organizations: Canadian Cancer Society

Geographic location: AMHERST, Tent City, Rob Centennial Park

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