Tuesday, July 22, 2014

‘Relay’ yet another success

This year’s “Relay For Life” may not have seen clear skies all night long but participants didn’t let that bring them down.
Instead, the 16 teams raised nearly $53,000, with more money still trickling in.

“We are very pleased with the turnout and the money raised at ‘Relay’ this year,” enthused committee co-chair Jennifer Anderson, noting their target wasn’t quite as high as last year, when 18 teams raised $83,000.
“We had a lot of challenges this year with the economy, weather, and flood watch,” she conceded.
“With everything the community is up against right now, the [amount raised] is fantastic.
“It was amazing to see our teams come out and take on the challenge,” Anderson enthused.
The “Relay,” which was held overnight Friday at Fort Frances High School, is an inspirational, non-competitive, 12-hour fundraiser that brings people and their communities together to celebrate life and fight cancer.
The event features a festival-like atmosphere that family, friends, and co-workers can enjoy regardless of their age or fitness level.
It involves teams of 10 people who take turns walking, running, or strolling around a track.
Opening ceremonies went off without a hitch, which included a few speakers, a warm-up led by Energy Fitness, and the first lap taken by local cancer survivors, with the Legion colour party and Fort Frances Highlanders at the helm.
Teams then joined the survivors—many checking out the hundreds of luminaries lining the track.
This year’s theme was “Remember. Celebrate. Fight Back.”
“These are the words on the ‘Relay’ flags every year,” Anderson explained, noting they asked teams to tell them why they “Relay.”
And many took the challenge, “Relaying” for friends and family who currently are fighting cancer, in memory of a loved one, or in celebration of someone’s victory over the disease.
“It was really neat to see their stories,” said Anderson.
The teams also had fundraisers and activities going on at each site, including fortune tellers and photo booths, food sales, craft sales, and games.
Several individuals also had their heads shaved by Paula Jensen from Shear Serenity, with funds raised all going to the cause.
But then a thunderstorm rolled in just minutes before the luminary ceremony was supposed to begin around 10 p.m.
The “Relay” was moved inside to the school’s gym and Anderson admitted it unfortunately dampened the spirits of many teams.
“Having to cancel the luminary ceremony and move everything inside was not ideal,” she remarked. “But what can you do?
“There was thunder, there was lightning,” she stressed. “You can’t have people out walking in it.”
The storm did let up and luminaries eventually were able to be lit around 3 a.m., spelling out the words “Hope” and “Cure” on the bleachers.
“And some of the teams did continue to walk inside and outside,” Anderson added, noting it was the first time in six years that the local “Relay” encountered rain.
“It was bound to happen sooner or later,” she reasoned.
“From my perspective, ‘Relay’ was a huge success,” enthused committee member Christine Denby, who was in charge of the luminaries.
“We sold approximately 640 luminaries, plus the 75 used for ‘Hope/Cure’ on the bleachers that Manitou Forest Products sponsored,” she noted.
In fact, Denby admitted she was anticipating numbers would be down, but that was not the case.
“A big thank you goes to the teams who did a terrific job selling luminaries and the outlets like Pharmasave, the Times, RBC, Gillons’, and Emo Pharmacy, who sold luminaries on our behalf,” Denby said.
“Thank you, as well, to the great volunteers we had both selling luminaries [as well as] filling and placing bags around the track.”
“We’re just happy with the support that we get from the community for the event,” echoed Anderson.
“They come out and support our “Relayers” and all the work our teams put into it.
“Without the teams and all their hard work, we wouldn’t raise a dollar,” she stressed.
With this year’s “Relay” now complete, the committee already is looking forward to next year’s event, which tentatively is scheduled for June 19.
“There is already a lot of enthusiasm for next year,” Anderson said.
“In fact, we have seven teams already registered,” she enthused, adding several individuals signed up, as well.
Anyone interested in getting involved in “Relay For Life” can contact Anderson at 276-4594.

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