More than 300 cancer survivors and their supporters packed Evergreen Park for 12 hours Friday night as part of the 14th annual Relay for Life in Grande Prairie. Canadian Cancer Society Revenue Development Coordinator Amanda Kolwich believes it’s important for communities to host the event every year as both a fundraiser and a celebration.
“A lot of cancer events tend to focus so much on people who have passed, but this allows us to celebrate a life; to see all the survivors brings hope to the whole community and shows them that what we’re doing here and fundraising – it works.”
This year’s event brought in more than $41,000, down significantly from three years ago, when the total for 2013 was $405,000. 2014’s event raised $251,000 and 2015 collected $155,000.
The survivors’ victory lap and the luminary ceremony are two of the most emotional moments of the night. Kolwich says the relay was originally 24 hours done by one man who wanted to show the struggle that cancer patients go through.
“We’ll never really understand that if we haven’t been through the journey, but we can walk for 12 hours until our feet hurt, until we just want to give up, but we push for those 12 hours to show these cancer survivors that we’re here with your journey and we’re going to go the distance for you.”
The money raised goes towards cancer research, but a portion of it will also stay in the community for supportive programming for people living with cancer.