More than 500 participants helped raise $112,000 at the 7th annual Relay for Life held at Farran Park, in Ingleside on Friday, June 15.
The 12-hour walking marathon to raise money for the Canadian Cancer society began at 7 pm with the opening ceremonies.
South Stormont mayor, Brian McGillis, performed the national anthem as well as a song which he’d written especially for the event called “Relay for Life.”
Other performers for the event included Graham Greer and area band, Near Water.
Jordon Coleman, a 21 year old survivor, spoke about his experience and his work now with the Cancer Society as a summer student for the last couple of years.
“We go all night, because it is hard to stay up all night,” said Coleman, who had been diagnosed before his first birthday. “It symbolizes how when you’re facing cancer you’re going to get to a point where you’ll say ‘this is really hard, I’m really tired’ and you’re going to want to give up. That’s just natural instinct. That’s what we’re trying to symbolize here with the 12 hour 7 to 7 relay. Through it all push to the end. We raise a lot of money and have a lot of fun doing it.
The luminary walk is a solemn ceremony were bags with candles are lit in memory of someone or for someone who is battling cancer, explained Sharyn Duffey, fundraising coordinator, Canadian Cancer Society, “It’s an emotional time, solemn.”
There were 52 teams participating in the event this year. Among them, 15 women from Community Living Stormont County, who called themselves the Crusaders.
Walking for co-workers and family members who have been affected by the disease, the group, which raised $5000 in their first year, want to make this an annual event for their team.
“It takes you back to reality,” said participant, Kelly Tessier, whose husband, Dan, is now five years cancer free. “It doesn’t matter who you are and where you come from or what age you are, it affects everybody and more than one person in your life - your immediate family their friends your friends. You’re always hearing about someone. We have to raise the money to get the research done. By now, there should be a cure and there isn’t. Makes you want to fight harder.”
The event included a “Fight Back Zone” featured challenges, quizzes, and information about prevention and advocacy, as well as a silent auction.
“(Its) purpose is to educate in a fun way about prevention, healthy living, early detection, and to show participants what (the society does) with money they bring in,” said Coleman.
Money raised at the event goes mainly to fund research, support systems and transportation for patients to get to their treatments, said Coleman, as well as Life After Cancer programs.
“When you’re in treatment, it takes a big part of your life, afterwards you’re almost lost, he said. “(The program) shows you how to stay focused and keep healthy.”
Coleman’s advice to anyone facing cancer – “Educate yourself, stay close to family and friends and keep hope, that’s the main thing.”