Organizers are hoping to recapture some of the same magic the event generated in 2008, the last time the celebration was held in Shaunavon. This year’s event, which is slated to take place May 30, is being co-chaired by two local cancer survivors – Kathy Towle and Helen Fauchon. Other early recruits to the core committee include Brenda Waldron, Leah Lunz and Linda Wanner. “We’re definitely facing a pretty tight schedule to get everything planned,” said Towle. “But I don’t think it will take long to get things rolling once we have our committee heads in place, because a lot of people have done this before.” The last time that Shaunavon hosted the Relay for Life was back in 2008. That event, co-chaired by Judy Krause and Wanda Larose, drew hundreds of participants and volunteers and raised more than $130,000. Organizers of this year’s event aren’t expecting to match those totals, particularly since the planning effort is several months behind previous celebrations. Volunteers also realize that the Town has just gone through two major community celebrations – the provincial men’s curling championships and Shaunavon’s Centennial – and that it might be difficult to muster the same sort of volunteer enthusiasm. “We’ll do what we can and people really do seem to want to step forward and support the relay – they all remember the last one and what a good time it was,” said Towle. Relay For Life is more than an event – it’s an experience, a celebration of survival, as well as an opportunity to honour those who have lost their life to cancer. It’s also a celebration of friendship, emotion, community, entertainment and fundraising. “It’s extremely emotional,” said Towle. “It’s a gathering of people out there who need support. It lets you know that you aren’t alone.” The event is appropriately named the Southwest Relay For Life, as communities across the region have shared the hosting responsibilities from one year to the next. The event has also visited communities such as Tompkins, Eastend, Frontier, Maple Creek, Gull Lake and Leader over the years. The celebration took place in Eastend last year under the leadership of co-chairs Joan McNaughton and Yvonne Neufeld. It marked the second time that Eastend has hosted the event. The origins of the Southwest event can be traced back to the tireless effort of former Frontier resident Barb Nesland. Nesland was responsible for introducing the Relay for Life to this corner of the province and helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for cancer research and programs. Nesland, who was diagnosed with cancer in 2004 and brought the Relay for Life to Frontier that same year, passed away in September of 2012. Relay for Life is a 12-hour event that features several components, including an opening Victory Lap led by cancer survivors. Then, teams comprised of between 10 and 15 family members, friends and co-workers, take turns walking, running or strolling around a track in a non-competitive environment. Participants raise money by collecting pledges. The challenge continues through the night, from 7 p.m. on Friday to 7 a.m. the next morning. The event takes an emotional turn at dusk, when the spectacular Luminary ceremony takes place. Luminaries are special candles that are placed in bags and carry the names of cancer survivors and loved ones lost. In a moving ceremony, luminaries placed around the track are lit in honour to help guide the walkers as they complete their relay laps. Relay For Life is international and takes place in about two dozen countries around the globe. Teams can now register for the event online by visiting the Canadian Cancer Society web site. Everyone who registers before March 31 will be entered into a draw to win an iPad. Call for Volunteers Organizers of the 2014 Southwest Relay for Life – set to take place May 30 – are putting out a huge call for volunteers. Anyone interested in getting involved with the event are asked to contact Helen Fauchon at 297-2444 or Kathy Towle at 297-3132.