10th Relay for Life goes Friday
© Darrell Cole – Amherst Daily News
Sharon Bristol, district co-ordinator (northwest) for the Canadian Cancer Society, and Amherst Relay For Life chairwoman are looking forward to Friday’s 10th annual Relay for Life that will take place at the Robb Centennial Complex.
AMHERST – Why do you relay?
It’s a question that has many answers and as organizers of the 10th Annual Relay For Life prepare for Friday annual fundraiser they know a community effort will help them take another step toward curing a killer.
“It’s going to be busy evening,” organizing committee chairwoman Sheila Christie said. “It marks the culmination of a year of fundraising by each of the participating teams and is another step in the fight against cancer.”
Along with raising money for cancer research, Relay for Life is a community celebration. As participants make their way around the makeshift track on the baseball diamond at the Robb Centennial Complex there’ll be numerous musical acts playing as well as other forms of entertainment from magic, to karaoke, zumba and yoga to a hypnotist followed by a hot breakfast at the legion.
There will be a children’s tent with face-painting and crafts while the Cumberland YMCA will offer various wellness services, and there’ll be a photo tent on site for participants to record the special moment that Relay for Life is.
Christie said there will also be lots of food with the Art of Eating Deli participating while there will be a tent with hamburgers.
Among the highlights of the event will be the Tim Horton’s Survivor’s banquet that will be catered by Jeannie’s Catering and victory lap that precedes the official opening.
The official opening will feature some of the event’s past speakers returning to share their memories.
Another highlight is the always moving Luminary ceremony that takes place at around 9 p.m. in which several thousand luminaries lining the track will be lit helping guide participants around the complex in honour or memory of someone who is fighting cancer, a survivor, or someone who lost their battle against the dreaded disease.
“Each one of those bags represents a life, someone we love. It could be someone we’ve lost to cancer, someone who’s battling it right now or someone who has survived it. Everyone purchases a luminary in honour of someone, so when you’re walking around the track and see those lights that have been lit in someone’s honour you realize so many people have been touched,” Sharon Bristol, the Canadian Cancer Society’s district co-ordinator (northwest), said. “As the lights get lit you can really feel the spirit of the ones who are with us any longer. You can feel it in the ones who are lighting the candles and you can feel it in the ones who are watching the candles being lit.”
From just over $40,000 the first year, the relay has continued to grow each year recently surpassing the million-dollar-mark.
Bishop said passion keeps people motivated for the relay as well as the knowledge they are making a difference.
Thanks to money raised through events such as Relay for Life, Bristol said advancements have been made in research that have led to better treatment and increased survival and cure rates.
“One of the reasons Relay for Life is so successful is because everyone is touched by cancer, and once people are touched by cancer and people when they’re touched by cancer realize how important this fight is. A lot more people are surviving this disease compared to 20 years ago and people are seeing the evidence of that,” Bristol said. “People sometimes ask why haven’t we cured cancer, but we are curing all kinds of cancer and you see that here every year. We have more than 190 survivors registered for this event. It’s the most we’ve ever had and even still it’s just a small percentage of the number of people who have beaten cancer.”
Bristol said the number of survivors participating in the relay is an inspiration to others who are just beginning their cancer journey or are continuing the battle.”
Both Christie and Bristol said the relay wouldn’t have the success it has without its teams and the varied ways they raise money. But, they also give a lot of credit to corporate supports such as the Town of Amherst and the Municipality of Cumberland along with Tantramar Chev Buick GMC Ltd., LED Roadway Lighting, Sprott Power and CIBC Wood Gundy.
“We have some great supporters behind us. Without them we wouldn’t able to reach the level we reached,” Christie said. “This is a community event and we need the community to support it. We have been so blessed over the last 10 years to have seen the community rally behind Relay for Life.”