Volunteers have put in some long days and late nights putting things together for the big event which, appropriately enough, is comprised of a long day and late night.
Relay For Life is an inspirational, 12-hour overnight fundraising event that brings people and communities together to celebrate life and fight cancer.
This year’s Southwest Relay will take place this Friday May 30 at the Crescent Point Wickenheiser Centre.
Teams taking part in the Relay are usually comprised of about a dozen people – often family members, friends and co-workers – who take turns walking, running or strolling around a track in a non-competitive environment.
“We’re really pleased with how things are going – everything seems to be coming together really well,” said Kathy Towle, who is co-chairing the 2014 Relay along with Helen Fauchon. “The committee heads have really done a great job. I can’t say enough about the hard work they’ve done.”
The Relay has been described as 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.
The event is known as the Southwest Relay For Life, as communities in the southwest will share the hosting responsibilities from one year to the next.
The effort was originally launched in Frontier and spent its first few years there before rotating through other communities.
Interestingly, Warren Nesland, whose wife Barb was the driving force behind the creation of the Southwest Relay, is a member of the Shaunavon organizing committee. Warren is spearheading the entertainment schedule for the event and has booked a full line-up of performers for the weekend celebration. Barb Nesland, unfortunately, passed away in 2012, but her effort in helping launch the Southwest Relay has helped generate hundreds of thousands of dollars for cancer research and programs.
This year’s celebration at Shaunavon will kick off on Friday with survivor, volunteer and team registrations from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., and a stew supper scheduled to start at 5:30 p.m.
The opening ceremonies are set to start at 7 p.m. Among those speaking at the event will be co-emcees Linda Wanner Fritz and Bob Smith, along with special guest and cancer survivor Kyla McMullin.
Shortly after those presentations are finished, the event will get another emotional spark with a victory lap of local cancer survivors, followed by a lap where the cancer survivors will be joined on the track by family members and caregivers.
The participating teams will then be introduced and begin their overnight trek around the track starting at about 7:30 p.m.
Organizers have also lined-up plenty of food, entertainment and other activities – such as draw giveaways, Zumba, laughing yoga – throughout the night to add a little extra fun to the festivities.
The first performers will hit the stage starting at about 8 p.m and continue throughout the night.
Members of the general public – even if they aren’t on a team – are invited to come out and watch and take part in all ceremonies.
The relay will take another emotional turn between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. when the spectacular Luminary ceremony takes place.
At that moment, hundreds of candles will be lit in honour of, or in memory of, loved ones who have had cancer. Residents can buy a luminary online or in person at the event until 9:30 p.m. that night.
A Fight Back ceremony and team awards will take place about 1 a.m.
The Knights of Columbus will serve a pancake and sausage breakfast starting about 5:30 a.m. and running to 6:45 a.m.
The closing ceremonies and the Final Lap will take place just before 7 a.m.
Members of the local relay organizing committee include:
Co-chairs – Helen Fauchon, Kathy Towle
Secretary – Carol Hansvall
Teams – Linda Wanner Fritz
Survivors – Lois Thienes
Food booth – Mia Frederick, Sylvia Pommier
Sponsorship- Patty Wright,
Carol Ann Hansen
Fight Back ceremony/activities – Rhonda Johnston, Lola Piquette
Logistics, Health & Safety – Ava Kalaschnick, Ron Phillips
Marketing & Communication – Joanne Gregoire, Charmaine Bernath
Entertainment – Warren Nesland
Ceremonies – Helen & Kathy
Luminary sales. – Brenda Waldron
Accounting & banking – Leah Lunz
Volunteers – Helen Fauchon
Clean up & set up – Russell Whyte
“I can’t say enough about the support we’ve received,” said Towle, a cancer survivor herself. “People have been very generous with their time and contributions. I know we couldn’t have put this on without the help of many people.”
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