It looks like this year’s “Relay for Life,” which is slated for this Saturday (June 23), will be the last one here.
Participation in the annual cancer fundraiser, which first started here in 2001, has declined over the years–not just locally but elsewhere, too.
Even so, organizers are holding it just one more time at a new location and in a briefer format.
“It’s a much smaller event than it used to be,” said lead organizer Monica Sus, noting this year’s “Relay” will take place at the new Rainy Lake Square on Scott Street.
It will kick off at 4 p.m. with an opening ceremony, which will happen rain or shine.
At this time, there will be the opportunity for anyone who wants to take a collection and then get their head shaved to do so.
“Everything will be combined into one ceremony and then people can choose to walk,” Sus said.
“But I don’t imagine there will be a lot of people walking,” she conceded, noting some participants are elderly while one team captain currently is sick with cancer.
While organizers have seen a trend in participation dwindle in recent years, Sus said she wanted to do it just once more.
“We still have a couple of teams that love to come out for ‘Relay,'” she remarked. “They have personal reasons for it, and that’s why I do it.
“We only have four teams right now, which is not a lot, but that’s okay,” Sus added.
“It’s not going to be like people saw back in the day,” she admitted. “But I am sure it will be very nice.
“We always, always have a very nice opening ceremony.”
There will be no set end time for the event. After the opening ceremony, participants can walk around the downtown area for a while or simply leave.
Another change this year is with the luminaries. Instead of having a ceremony to light the luminaries once it gets dark, they will be placed in the window of Curvy Chick, which is located across the street from the Rainy Lake Square.
This means they will be lit and in the window as of 4 p.m. on Saturday. Those wanting to see them can do so immediately after the opening ceremony, while they’re walking a few blocks, or later that evening after sundown.
Anyone wanting to purchase a luminary can buy them for $5 each at Pharmasave or from a table set up during the Thursday and Saturday markets at the Rainy Lake Square.
Participants will be able to decorate them and/or write a name on it to honour a loved one who has survived cancer or in memory of one who passed away from the disease.
Some people even add photos to theirs.
They’re asked to get the bag back to Pharmasave or Sus before Saturday afternoon. A small battery-operated candle will be placed into it and then it will be arranged in the Curvy Chick window.
Teams still can sign up for “Relay” by contacting Sus at 274-7043 or dropping by the “Welcome Home” Fort Frances Family Centre (272 Scott St.) on Monday to Friday from 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
The cost to sign up is $10 per team member.
Individuals also simply can show up at “Relay” on Saturday and possibly make a donation.
Likewise, anyone who cannot attend Saturday’s event, but would like to make a donation to “Relay for Life,” can contact Sus as indicated above.
Any donation of $20 or more gets a tax receipt.
As in past years, proceeds from “Relay for Life” will be donated to the Canadian Cancer Society and to the Riverside Foundation for Health Care.
Earlier this year, Sus presented the Foundation with a cheque for $8,726 from the 2017 “Relay for Life.”
This money was earmarked for equipment and furnishings for the hospital.