Jen Dies was exhausted but exhilarated Tuesday following a Relay For Life event that exceeded her expectations.
“We did so much better than last year; we’re sitting just over $91,000 while last year was $76,000,” she said of the June 10 event that ran from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. with 107 registered participants.
At 18, the number of teams was also up from last year and 68 survivors participated in the initial victory lap.
“We had a fantastic luminary ceremony done by Valerie Dean, who took participants through her entire cancer journey, which was very moving,” said a tearful Dies.
Rick Hirtle of the BDO Bean Counters won the houseboat trip for being the top fund raiser. He passed it on to next highest fundraising team, the Princess Maidens of the Shuswap.
“And they, as a team, walked over and presented it to Valerie Dean,” said Dies, tearing up again. “They are such an awesome team; they come from all over Salmon Arm and Blind Bay and they’ve been there from day 1.”
Dies is grateful to other long-timers – the Shuswap Band that has performed for 14 of the last 15 years, and Crown The Guilty, whose performance was cut short by the clock, but who stayed behind to help tear down and clean up.
“Our community is so amazing, it leaves me speechless sometimes,” she says.
As the sole 12-hour event in the region, the Salmon Arm Relay attracted teams from Vernon, Kelowna, Clearwater, Chase, Blind Bay and Salmon Arm.
“Our goal is to have teams from other communities join us and make it bigger and better,” says Dies. “I have already been asked what the theme will be next year, and I just want to go to bed.”