Summerside readies Relay for Life 2014

Journal Pioneer staff
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Kick off promotes event at Red Shores and Credit Union Place

SUMMERSIDE – The Relay for Life is returning to Summerside this year, with the first leg of the event getting off to a good start at a rally held at Three Oaks Senior High school Friday evening.

Against a backdrop of Relay for Life images, Brenda Ramsay encourages participation in the 2014 relay in Summerside on May 30. Ramsay's Spirit of Christmas team has raised more than $37,000 since 2007.

Gail MacDonald, coordinator of the Relay for Life for P.E.I., praised the organizing committee for working hard to bring the event back after teams joined Kensington’s relay last year. MacDonald noted that 20 teams have already been registered for the event.

The Relay for Life will be an overnight event, beginning at 6 p.m.  Friday, May 30. Teams can register to complete a 6-hour relay or the full 12-hour event. They will set up and decorate their camps on the infield, with the relay being conducted on the encircling track.

Entertainment and activities will take place on site throughout the night. Some activities, including the survivor reception, will be held indoors at Credit Union Place.

“It’s a nice arrangement with the City, “ MacDonald praised, noting that some participants liked the outdoor events and some liked the indoor events held in previous years.

Bill Whelan, the president of the Canadian Cancer Society P.E.I. Division, praised the efforts of all the relays that Islanders have participated in, noting that more than $300,000 had been raised in 2013 despite difficult economic pressures. That accounted for about 30 per cent of funds raised from all Cancer Society activities.

Whelan emphasized the value of the contributions Islanders made, including supporting better cancer screening programs, providing emotional and tangible support to Islanders dealing with cancer, educating and helping Islanders to reduce cancer risk, and influencing government policy on such matters as the catastrophic drug program.

The money has also helped to continue research into prevention and early detection, two of the concepts that encouraged the Rev. Dr. Arthur Davies to take on the task as chair of the 2014 Relay for Life.

Cancer has affected Davies directly through the loss of his mother in 1985, at age 60, but he recognizes that few things touch as many in our community as cancer does. 

Citing high rates of cancer on P.E.I., he advocates stopping cancer through prevention rather than having to rely on cures and feels the Island is the place to show results.

“We are small enough that we can do something to change things (here),” he promoted.

We are small enough that we can do someting to change things Rev. Dr. Arthur Davies, chair of the Relay for Life organizing committee

Rally participants reflected that attitude, their stories emphasized by a continuous backdrop of relay images as well as several themed songs performed by Jim and Catherine Dickson.

Master of ceremony Emily Schurman revealed cancer has claimed many significant friends and others who had influenced her life. Her mother also suffered three forms of cancer, leading her and her siblings to have cancer screenings. One sister had a cancer treated successfully.

Those experiences influenced Schurman to join the relay as part of the team from Trinity United Church.

Sandra Reeves, a two-time cancer survivor, reflected on the impact cancer has by describing the sunset lighting of luminaries both the most beautiful and sad part of the relay evening. She urged Islanders to be proactive in screening for cancer and during treatment after diagnosis.

“You know your own body,” she counseled encouragement to seek screening and be in control of procedures.

Brenda Ramsay has been involved to honour her mother who passed away on a Christmas Day at age 46, leaving 6 of 11 children at home. Her Spirit of Christmas team has raised over $37,000 since 2007.

She supports the relay in hopes of making a difference.

“… by giving to a cause that may prevent other families from losing a loved one too soon, letting moms continue to be moms for much longer, and let grand-moms continue to hug their grandkids for many more years,” Ramsay detailed for the assembled relay supporters.

Davies concluded his remarks by urging participants to challenge the people around them to join in the effort, to make it a year to remember.

The kick off event was an encouragement for teams to register early to have time to maximize fundraising, which concludes several weeks ahead of the relay so funds can be verified. Any registered participant who has raised a minimum of $100 by the deposit deadline will be eligible for two tickets to any destination that West Jet serves, to be drawn at midnight during the Relay for Life.

Organizations: Union Place, Canadian Cancer Society P.E.I. Division, Trinity United Church

Geographic location: Kensington, Iceland

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