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New and familiar elements in Saturday’s Fraser Valley Relay for Life

The Langley event will take place in Willoughby Community Park
A pre-pandemic Langley Relay for Life in 2018. (Langley Advance files)

The Fraser Valley Relay for Life is coming back to Langley this weekend, for the first in-person edition of the Canadian Cancer Society fundraiser since the start of the pandemic.

“I think it will be really great for everyone to be back in person,” said Arden Mills, with the Canadian Cancer Society’s team organizing the Fraser Valley Relay for Life.

The annual team relay event will make a major move this year, to Willoughby Community Park, near the Langley Events Centre, instead of at McLeod Athletic Park.

On June 11, from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., teams will take it in turn to circle the track there as part of their commitment to raising money to prevent and treat cancers.

Money from the teams goes to the Canadian Cancer Society, for research and support programs for cancer patients and their families.

READ MORE: Langley’s Relay for Life comes back after two years of virtual and solo events

READ ALSO: Langley’s Relay for Life plans for second year of going solo

Although this will be an in-person event, the fact that COVID-19 is still in the community means organizers and volunteers will be cautious.

“We will be following all the socially distanced guidelines,” said Mills.

She noted that teams can still sign up to do the relay in a virtual format.

There is also a mobile app available via the Relay for Life website that allows people to track their team activities.

“We are very aware that all of our Hope participants need to be more cautious,” she said.

Hope participants are the cancer survivors, or those still in treatment, who wear distinctive yellow T-shirts at the event. Traditionally, the first lap of the relay every year is walked entirely by cancer survivors, sending a daffodil-yellow wave around the track.

Carolynne Wilks, engagement coordinator for the relay, said the new location gives the event plenty of parking, good infrastructure, and lots of space.

As of late May, there 19 teams and 75 registered participants, and more than $40,000 had already been raised.

The bulk of the donations roll in during the last few weeks before the relay, as teams turn over their donations and hold their final fundraisers.

“We are ramping up,” Wilks said.

The goal for this year was $125,000, up from the $81,000 raised in 2021’s virtual relay.

This year’s entertainment will include band Rear View Mirror, singer-guitarist Jack Yarwood, the Los Meatballs Band, and Panorama Dance Group.

The master of ceremonies for the evening will be Naiomi Kragh.

Some things will remain the same from previous relays, including the luminary ceremony.

After dark, white paper bags illuminated from within by candles – more commonly, with electric tealights, for safety – are placed around the track in memory of people who were lost to cancer. Many of the luminaries are decorated with the names of family members and friends of the relay participants.

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Matthew Claxton

About the Author: Matthew Claxton

Raised in Langley, as a journalist today I focus on local politics, crime and homelessness.
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