Several hundred cancer crusaders will converge on the Robb Complex on Saturday for the 11th Relay for Life.
AMHERST – Months of planning, preparation and even praying will come to fruition on Saturday when Robb Centennial Complex hosts the 11th annual Relay for Life cancer fundraiser.
Approximately 30 teams and 300 participants will converge on the complex for 12 hours of fun, sharing memories and honouring those who have fought, are fighting and will fight cancer.
Festivities begin at 1 p.m. and continue until 1 a.m. Sunday morning as the Relay for Life moves to a different format away from an overnight event to one that runs through the day and into the evening.
“We’re ready to go. We’ve had a great committee working very hard to put this together and again we’ve had amazing support from the community and from our teams,” organizing committee chairwoman Sheila Christie said. “There are a few last minute details we have to iron out but things are coming together nicely.”
Since this year’s event starts in the afternoon, Christie and organizers are urging participants to be prepared for sunny skies with sunscreen and hats.
She is also reminding people that the park is closed to participants only between 1 and 3 p.m. Teams will take part in some friendly competitions during that time.
The survivor meal will take place at 4 p.m. in the main tent with the survivor lap set for 5 p.m. and the caregiver lap at 5:15 p.m.
The opening ceremonies begin at 7 p.m. in the main tent at which time there will be music with the top fundraising teams also recognized.
The emotional luminary ceremony is expected to begin at about 9 p.m. with the fighting back closing ceremony beginning at midnight.
Luminaries will be for sale until 9:30 p.m. in the luminary tent.
Tim Horton’s/Wendy’s is sponsoring the children’s tent and Jacob Melanson will be selling cancer wristbands that he makes with the proceeds going to Relay for Life.
There will also be entertainment throughout the evening as well as numerous fun events.
Sharon Bristol, the Canadian Cancer Society’s district co-ordinator, is hoping teams will decorate their tents in the colours of cancer. She said the importance of continuing to relay is backed up by recent figures showing some forms of cancer, namely melanoma, continuing to rise.
“Events such as this show support for those who are fighting cancer or have fought cancer, but it’s also about raising awareness about why we fight,” Bristol said.
The importance of the relay has not been lost on Rev. Jonathan Cole, who spoke at last year’s opening as a survivor of a brain tumour.
“I relay because I can. I want to make a positive impact in our world with every breath God gives me,” said Cole. “Hearing the words you have cancer can be overwhelming and I still remember when I heard the words, ‘you have a brain tumour 17 months ago.’ On Day 1, I was determined to focus on what I could do. I could walk, I could talk and I could and can share hope with others. I can help raise funds for worthy causes like Relay for Life that has helped a great deal with life-saving research, advocating policies that protect our health and also the compassionate services and support for those living with cancer.”
Cole said he is involved in the relay because he wants to impact his work. He said he knows his purpose.
“We aren’t just fighting one type of cancer, we’re fighting for every birthday threatened by every cancer in every community,” Cole said. “Each person who shares the Relay for Life experience can take pride in knowing that they are working to create a world where this disease will no longer threaten our loved ones or rob anyone of another birthday.”
Relay for Life Schedule
10 a.m. to 1 p.m. – Team registration, decorating, set up
1 to 2 p.m. – Registered teams only. Potluck kickoff, photos and other events
2 to 3 p.m. – Registered teams only. Steve Wells Music, rainbow bracelets, scavenger hunt registration, survivor registration, gift shop, parachute games, relay race games
3 to 4 p.m. – Park opens to public. Splat Zone, Survivor registration
4 to 5 p.m. – Survivor meal, balloon animals, bead station, T-shirt art, fish pond, face-painting in children’s tent. Volunteer registration, YMCA Cycle fit, Crazy laps.
5 p.m. – Survivor Lap
5:15 p.m. – Caregiver Lap
5:30 p.m. – Survivor Group Photo
6 p.m. – Opening Ceremony
7 p.m. – Entertainment in main tent, scavenger hunt close, tail mix, smoothies
8 p.m. – Entertainment in main tent, minute to win it games in children’s tent
9 p.m. – Luminary ceremony in main tent
9:20 p.m. – Luminary lighting
10 p.m. – Entertainment in the main tent
11 p.m. – Entertainment in the main tent, tug of war
12 p.m. – Fight Back closing ceremony in main tent