As part of a nation-wide fundraising initiative by the Canadian Cancer Society, teams work beforehand to raise funds which will go towards cancer research and treatment in Canada.
The 2018 Relay For Life will make a return to its roots in a way, being held once again as an overnight event, running from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. Aside from keeping participants out of the hot summer sun for 12 straight hours, Jen Dies, manager of the Salmon Arm branch of the Canadian Cancer Society, says there is a more symbolic reason for holding the relay overnight.
“The point is to emulate a cancer journey,” she says. “The darkness represents the struggle, and in the morning when the sun comes up that represents hope.”
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Dies has come full circle in her involvement with the Canadian Cancer Society, saying “I started with this event as a participant, and the event experience that night was so amazing my husband and my kids and myself volunteered. Just going to that event that night changed my whole course, now I’ve been an employee for 10 years.”
She says it is inspiring to see the community rally behind the relay each year, both as participants and volunteers, work to achieve their goal of raising funds to support cancer research. She also notes it is uplifting to see those who are struggling with cancer support each other and pass on positive messages to others.
“There is so much survivorship present, if you are just beginning your diagnosis and you come to our opening ceremonies and see the years of survivorship there, it really is amazing,” she says. “It gives them hope. We have some people there who have been survivors for 25, 30 years, so for someone who was just diagnosed… that’s pretty powerful to see.”
There will be a survivors and caregivers reception at the fair grounds starting at 5:30 p.m., to recognize the tenacity of cancer survivors and the dedication of their caregivers. They will also receive a victory lap celebration as the relay begins at 7 p.m..
Then in the evening, at 9:30 p.m. as the sun is falling low, teams and volunteers will light a long stretch of luminaries stretching along the relay path. These small bags, filled with candles and inscribed with messages of hope and inspiration, will be the light relay runners have to guide them on their way.
Dies says these luminaries represent the help and support of family members, friends and volunteers who support those dealing with cancer in their lives. They are also a part of the event’s fundraising efforts and can be purchased online. The luminary can be personalized with an inspiring message or dedicated to friend or family member.
Over the course of the evening relay runners will be kept company and pushed to keep going by volunteers, along with live entertainment in the form of local musicians including a family of players who call themselves the Juke Box Band.
Salmon Arm’s Relay For Life is still open for participants, volunteers and supporters to join. Information on how to register or volunteer can be found on the Salmon Arm Relay For Life website.