Thirty teams raised in excess of $132,000 for the fight against cancer during the 11th Relay for Life on Saturday.
AMHERST – There were plenty of tears, more than a few smiles and more than $132,000 raised as several hundred people packed into the Robb Centennial Complex on Saturday night for Amherst’s 11th annual Relay for Life.
“This community continues to amaze me with its generosity, its determination and its sense of community,” the Canadian Cancer Society’s district co-ordinator Sharon Bristol said Saturday after the official opening. “We have 30 teams here and more than 200 survivors and just as many caregivers here to support the effort. We also had more than a hundred volunteers and many more well wishers here to support the survivors in our community.”
Teams spent several hours walking around a makeshift track at the converted baseball diamond while there was entertainment in the big tent, socializing at the various team sites and numerous fun games in the outfield.
Bristol said Relay for Life continues to grow because so many people are affected by cancer and more people continue to be diagnosed with the disease every day.
“The relay is so important because there are so many people affected by cancer and we want to do something to fight back,” she said. “We’re getting results and it’s because of the money we raise at relay every year. There has been progress in research and because of early diagnosis and treatment we’re making gains. More and more people are surviving and people are seeing the impact we’re making and they want to have a bigger impact. We can’t change the incidence of cancer, but what we can do is find more ways to cure cancer and increase the survival rates.”
Bristol said the relay shows that people of all ages can do something to fight cancer. She said Jacob Melanson is an excellent example of young people joining the fight. The 11-year-old Amherst boy sold wristbands that he made and while he had hoped to raise just $100, he raised more than $1,500.
Early in the evening, just after he passed the $1,000 mark someone came along and gave him a $100 donation. That was followed soon after by a donation of $250. He got another donation early Sunday that pushed him over the $1,500 mark.
Speaking during the opening, former MP Bill Casey – a two-time cancer survivor – talked about the need for early diagnosis. Casey said if he hadn’t gone to a cancer screening event on Parliament Hill several years ago he wouldn’t be here today.
He had all five signs of malignant melanoma and was saved by early detection – something Casey said fellow parliamentarian Chuck Cadman didn’t do. Casey said Cadman knew something was wrong but kept putting it off until it was too late.
It was early detection and treatment that saved him from prostate cancer.
“At anytime along the way I could’ve said no, I don’t have time for this, but if I had I wouldn’t be here today,” Casey said. “If it hadn’t been for Chuck Cadman’s wife and that clinic on Parliament Hill and a committee meeting ending early, I wouldn’t be here today.”
Casey said the people who do the research, the doctors, the nurses and the people who raise the money to fund the research are the superheroes in the fight against cancer.
He said it’s important for people to look after themselves and not to wait if they notice something different about their bodies.
It’s especially men who are stubborn about their health, he said, while women are proactive.
“The key is early detection, look after yourself, be careful and be vigilant,” he said. Make sure you are checked regularly.”
A number of teams were honoured for how much they raised for the event. Team Scotia surpassed the $100,000 mark raising $33,180 this year to again lead the way, while the BK Believers raised $14,231 and the Guardian Angels raised $12,953 to achieve the gold level.
The Warehouse Warriors at $7,670, the Little Committee That Could at $7,268, the Painted Ladies at $6,880 and the Cluckers at $5,324 achieved bronze status and the Pharmasave/Robins team at $3,682 and the Epicure Dip Divas at $3,055 achieved rising star status.
Bristol said five youth teams combined to raise $5,300 while there were also a number of new teams that joined the relay this year.