Relay For Life makes cancer fight a team sport

Chilliwack’s 7th Annual Relay For Life will be held at the Prospera Centre on Friday, June, 3. Participants can walk or run in a non-competitive environment to raise money for cancer research, as well as enjoy the fun and supportive atmosphere encouraged by friends and family.

Chilliwack’s 7th Annual Relay For Life will be held at the Prospera Centre on Friday, June, 3. Participants can walk or run in a non-competitive environment to raise money for cancer research, as well as enjoy the fun and supportive atmosphere encouraged by friends and family.

Last year the event raised approximately $75,000 and Tim Dixon, community fundraising co-ordinator for the Canadian Cancer Society, says that he anticipates to reach upwards of $78,000 this year. There are currently 26 teams registered, but Dixon expects that number to jump to about 35 by the time the relay starts.

“It’s a really positive event,” Dixon says, “I don’t know anyone who can say they don’t know somebody affected by it.”

Teams come together each year for the 12 hour overnight event. The average team size is about nine members, “But,” Dixon says, “There will be teams of six and teams of 26. So if you only have a team of four, you’re still making a contribution, that’s a good team. There’s  no minimum requirement.”

Scotiabank team member Cheryl Parks has been participating in Relay for Life for four years. She got involved when a co-worker was diagnosed with cancer, and has been a contributor for the cause ever since.

“We like to keep going every year now… cancer touches everybody in so many different ways, it’s a very strong commitment that the branch [puts] in here, to honour co-workers that we have lost.”

Throughout the last four years, Parks’ team has raised over $25,000 to donate to cancer research.

“We do fundraising in the branch here. We’ve done bake sales and raffles for gift baskets, and we have lots of customers that just hand over $20 and say ‘please donate this for us.’”

The most emotional part of the relay for Parks is the Luminary ceremony. Participants bring in pictures to place on bags and decorate them, then place a lit candle inside. “It’s very, very touching,” she says, “It’s beautifully done.”

The most challenging physical aspect Parks says, is staying up all night. But, Dixon anticipates this, and plans events that happen all night long. Scavenger hunts, live music and performances are all part of the activities geared to keep participants motivated.

Parks invites first time teams to get together and come and have fun, and the public is encouraged to come out and support Relay For Life. “It’s very motivating,” she says, “It’s the event that I wouldn’t want to miss.”