Relay For Life recognizes super heroes

This Saturday, hunderds of people will lace up their shoes and walk the track at Elk’s Park to honour those who have cancer

Ready for relay: Brenda Kurtz

Ready for relay: Brenda Kurtz

This Saturday, hunderds of people will lace up their shoes and walk the track at Elk’s Park to honour those who have cancer and remember those who have died.

For the first time in its 12-year history in Salmon Arm, Relay For Life will be held from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. at Elk’s Park.

“There are mixed reviews,” says co-ordinator Jen Dies. “A lot of the teams that have been around for many years are quite happy with the change, but others have said they’ll miss the symbolism of the overnight journey.”

Twenty-seven teams have registered this year – one team more than last year.

“We’re hoping more of the general public will drop in during the day.”

Dies says the planning committee has done an outstanding job organizing activities that focus on health and wellness.

The new Fitness with Local Super Heroes will include piyo, yoga, pilates, general fitness, reflexology, massage, reiki shiatsu, acupressure and skin analysis.

Relay starts with a victory lap for survivors and caregivers.

“For  the second year in a row, we are not going to release balloons,” says Dies. “They will be clumped together and visible as a reminder of why we are there.”

Invitations in the form of large tickets were sent to 150 cancer survivors, who, once they have walked the victory lap, will go to Elk’s Hall for entertainment, luncheon guest speakers, a group photo and to make their own luminaries to put out on the track.

The rest of the walkers will warm up with a zumba session before receiving their team batons.

Food and refreshments will be available and musical entertainment will help walkers step it up throughout the day, thanks to several local  artists.

At 8:30 in the evening, the luminary ceremony will begin.

Luminaries are  placed in memory of people who have died from cancer and in honour of those who are living with the disease. Each team has their own spot on the track so the luminaries are with their families, friends and teammates.

“The luminary ceremony is incredibly important,” Dies says. “Relay is like  a blockbuster movie – it makes you laugh, it makes you cry and it gives you hope. And all of that is summed up in the luminary ceremony.”

Along with the $5 luminary purchase, Dies asks that people take a donation of a canned good to anchor the luminaries and to be delivered to the  Salvation Army Food bank following the event.

Closing ceremonies with prizes for the highest fundraisers and the announcement of the total funds raised  will begin at 10:30 p.m.

And Brenda Kurtz will be on-site for the whole relay. She first walked in a Relay For Life in Saskatchewan in 2002.

“It was the first time I called myself a survivor. I would never have called myself  a survivor prior to the survivor lap,” she says, pointing out her diagnosis was made so early, she only required surgery – no chemo or radiation. “There were 300 of us, and it really made a show and an impact on me that I was part of that group. And now I am past my 20 year mark.”

A survivor, volunteer and participant in Relay For Life, Kurtz brought relay to Salmon Arm in 2003.

It is the inspiration and hope that takes her back time and time again.

For more information about this Saturday’s relay, call 250-833-4334.