With fewer than two weeks until the Comox Valley’s Relay for Life kicks off at Vanier Track, 60 teams have signed up to participate.
From 7 p.m. Saturday, June 8 to 7 a.m. the next day, Vanier Track will be filled with people celebrating cancer survivors, remembering loved ones who lost their battle with cancer and fighting back against cancer by fundraising for the Canadian Cancer Society.
Local organizer Patti Mertz notes there’s still time for teams to register online at www.relaybc.ca and she encourages people to do so soon, noting Comox Valley support for Relay for Life is impressive each year.
“There continues to be incredible support for Relay for Life in the Comox Valley,” she says. “One team that we’re really noticing this year is called Maidens of the Rainbow, and it’s a group of women who have all faced different types of cancer, so they’ve made a rainbow of all their coloured ribbons that signify each type of cancer that they have faced as a group.”
She adds this group has already raised over $5,000 for Relay for Life. Another group, Mums on the Run, has raised over $3,000, and Mertz notes this group joined together because “they believe, as many of us do, that while one person can do a lot, together we really believe that we can defeat cancer — and many people are defeating it every day.
“There are many types of cancer now that have much higher survival rates than they did 30 or 40 years ago — and that’s a direct result of the research, and that research has been funded, a lot of it, funded over the years by events like Relay for Life.
“So we really are making a difference in the lives of people, and celebrating the lives of people who have defeated cancer in the Comox Valley.”
The event kicks off with a survivor dinner at 5:30 p.m., sponsored by Thrifty Foods. Survivors are invited to bring their main caregiver and are urged to RSVP for the dinner by calling the Canadian Cancer Society office in the Comox Valley at 250-338-5454 — as organizers need to know how many people to cook for.
Opening ceremonies start at 7 p.m., and are followed by the survivor lap, which Mertz describes as a “symbol of hope for all of those facing cancer” and proof “that there is life beyond cancer.”
All teams then join in to start the 12-hour Relay for Life. At dusk, people are invited to light luminaries during the luminary ceremony for loved ones who lost their battle with cancer.
“The entire Relay is not meant to be a sombre event but we do know that it’s important for a lot of people to take the time at Relay to grieve and to remember loved ones that we’ve lost over the years,” says Mertz, adding anyone who wishes to light a luminary is asked to bring a can of food to weigh down their paper bag. The canned food will be donated to the Comox Valley Food Bank.
Activities like Zumba, karaoke, live music, a newspaper fashion show and scavenger hunt will happen throughout the night.
Thrifty Foods will also provide a midnight meal for participants.
Mertz notes people can register at the event, and though each person is encouraged to raise $100, they are still welcome to participate if they can’t.
Participants don’t need to stay for the entire 12-hour Relay; Mertz explains some people just come for the survivor dinner and lap, others come for the luminary ceremony, and others stay for the whole event and “walk in the steps of those who fight cancer.”