At the start of the Fraser Valley Relay for life at McLeod Park in Langley on Saturday (June 8), 400 people in 55 teams had already raised $147,000 toward their collective goal of $180,000 for cancer research.
By the the next day, the total had risen to $156,000 and coordinator Miranda Tracy said people could still donate online at the www.relayforlife.ca website or by contacting the Surrey office of the Canadian Cancer society at 604-583-2228
“This is one of the biggest events that we have in our region for the community to come together,” Tracy said.
Some participants ran, most walked, many arm in arm, and one young participant followed the course on a skateboard.
Before the relay got underway, radio personality and cancer survivor Clay St. Thomas shared his story with the participants.
He had just started working at a Windsor, Ontario radio station when he went to see a urologist about a lump, learned he had testicular cancer, and underwent surgery 18 hours later.
St. Thomas said he was “super, super lucky” because the cancer had not spread to the rest of his body and he has remained cancer-free since.
“Not everyone gets that chance,” St. Thomas told the audience.
He pointed out that what he referred to as “ball cancer” is the most common form of cancer among men under 30, and urged them to learn how to conduct self-exams.
It was the first year the event was operated under a new name and mandate.
Surrey and Langley Relays were merged together in response to declining participation, a problem organizers said may be the result of the many news cancer-specific fundraisers that have cropped up.
People from Surrey, Maple Ridge, Langley, Abbotsford, and Coquitlam signed up for the revised event, which ran from 2 p.m. to 11 p.m.
The team that raised the most was “The Gallery,” whose top fundraiser, Kari Medos raised more than $12,000 on the way to a team total of $21,000, beating their $15,000 goal.
It was the 15th year of the Relay for the team.
Medos said both her parents, both her maternal grandparents and her brother have died from cancer.
Her husband is a seven-year survivor of colon cancer after “three surgeries and six months of intense chemotherapy.”
A longtime friend just lost his 57-year-old wife to cancer, at Christmas, and another friend just lost her dad to the disease in February.
Another friend is currently undergoing chemotherapy and radiation for cancers that grew so much in one area, that it “broke her bone, “Medos said.
“I know, that everyone has a similar story and everyone has been affected by this disease,” Medos said.
“Through donations research can be done and cures and treatments will be discovered.”
The Relay for Life is an annual non-competitive relay event, which sees teams take turns walking on a track to mark their commitment to funding cures for cancer.
It’s notable for the annual “survivor lap” which sees cancer survivors in bright yellow shirts take the first turn around the track every year.
On Saturday, the Relay for Life remembered those who lost their lives to cancer with a luminaries ceremony, where paper bags illuminated by artificial candles wer4e lit around the track and in the stands.
More photos can be seen online.
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