Amherst Relay for Life to change format

Darrell
Darrell Cole
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Moving to an all-day format as opposed to overnight event

Next year's Relay for Life in Amherst is adopting a new format that will run from 1 p.m. to 1 a.m. instead of the 5 p.m. to 5 a.m. it used for its first 10 years.

Amherst Relay for Life committee member Terry LeFurgey Lewis (left) and Sheila Christie (centre) look over proposed changes for the 2014 event with Canadian Cancer Society district co-ordinator Sharon Bristol. The 2014 relay will begin at 1 p.m. on Saturday, June 7 and finish at 1 a.m. on Sunday, June 8.

AMHERST – Eleven years and $1.3 million later, organizers say the time has come to change Amherst’s Relay for Life.

The 11th edition of the popular cancer fundraiser will be held on Saturday, June 7, at the Robb Centennial Complex, but instead of being an all night event the relay will run from 1 p.m. on Saturday until 1 a.m. on Sunday.

“We reached out to the teams after last year to see what sort of changes we could make and the overwhelming response was to change from Friday night to a Saturday event,” Amherst Relay for Life committee chairwoman Sheila Christie said. “Everyone is looking forward to the change.”

The 10th relay, held in June, raised $169,000, but heavy rain in the middle of the night prevented some events from taking place, while organizers want to bring more of a family atmosphere to the event.

Christie said starting the event in the afternoon and ending at 1 a.m. may attract new and younger teams and make it more of a family event.

The Canadian Cancer Society’s district co-ordinator Sharon Bristol said the change is one that’s being made by other relays in Nova Scotia and across Canada.

“This is our 11th year and we’ve had a great decade for Relay for Life. One of the things we’ve been hearing, and not just from Amherst, is that the event is getting to the point they’d like to see some changes while keeping the original model of Relay for Life and what it stands for,” said Bristol.

Christie said it will be a special event for participating teams in that it will be closed to the public between 1 and about 5 p.m., while other signature events – including the Survivor’s Walk and the Luminary ceremony – will still go in the evening as they have since the beginning.

“All the evening events will be the same, but the team events will be in the afternoon instead of overnight,” Christie said. “This way the public can have more time to interact with the teams and we can close down with a big Fight Back ceremony between midnight and 1 a.m.”

Christie said organizers will also change the entertainment lineup to make it more attractive to all participants and members of the public. She feels the change will also make it more attractive to survivors and she’s hoping teams will take on survivors as honorary members.

“We’d like to have it so that the survivors can stay around and be a part of the event for a longer time than just the survivor’s walk,” Christie said.

Bristol said by holding it on a Saturday makes the event more attractive to teams in that many of them won’t have to take time off work to attend and it makes it easier for them to set up in the morning, instead of rushing to get ready during the afternoon.

“The other thing we want to do is encourage more family-based teams to be part of the relay,” Bristol said. “Sometimes people who think about taking part see the huge amounts some of the teams raise and don’t think they can be part of it because they don’t have the means to raise that amount of money. It’s not about the amount of money, it’s about engaging more teams to come out and have an opportunity to participate.

“It is a fundraising event, but we don’t want to deter family-based teams from coming. We want everyone to be able to participate. Everyone has been touched by this disease at varying levels and people come for their own reasons. Some come because they want to change the face of cancer and make it easier for others, and for others it’s their way of fighting back.”

Bristol said people who take part in the relay know the money they raise is helping make a difference at home and across the region.

Registration for the 2014 event has already begun with 10 teams registered. Teams can register by going to cancer.ca or contacting Terri LeFurgey Lewis at 667-1710 at North Nova Hearing Centre.

An added feature this year is everyone who registers by Dec. 15 is eligible to win an iPad.

darrell.cole@tc.tc

Twitter: @ADNdarrell

Organizations: Amherst Relay for Life committee, Canadian Cancer Society, North Nova Hearing Centre

Geographic location: Nova Scotia, Canada

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