Bonnie Hickey says the reason she takes part in the Relay for Life has changed over the years.
“I’ve come full circle in the Celebrate, Remember, Fight Back order,” Hickey told those gathered for the kickoff to the 2012 Relay for Life in Prince George. “I started doing the relay to honour my Aunt Yvette, who died from cancer in 1994, and to remember her life.
“Then, in January 2004, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. When I started the relay again, I was celebrating being a survivor and helping to fight back against cancer.”
In February of last year, Hickey lost two friends to cancer.
“Now, I’ve come full circle to celebrating their lives.”
For young Ashley Clarke, it’s personal.
“I relay because I’ve lost family members to cancer,” said Ashley, sporting an Ashley’s Angels jacket marking previous relays. “I don’t think cancer is fair, because they were good people.
“I will fight back.”
This year’s event will be held at Masich Place Stadium on May 12 and 13. Margaret Jones-Bricker, regional director of the Canadian Cancer Society, says Prince George is unique in Canada.
“Prince George is the only 24-hour relay in Canada. Almost everyone else only does 12 hours.”
Funds raised by the teams who enter and by other donations go to a number of programs, she said.
“We have a Workplace Wellness Program, the Tan-free Grad Program for high-school students, and others. We also use the funds to help with the Kordyban Lodge and to fund research.”
Teams can register online now, says team lead Helen Owen, and there are some incentives to do so.
“We are very excited to offer a discounted fee of only $10 until Jan. 31. As well, every team with a minimum of 10 participants will be entered into a draw for a luxury tent for their use during the relay.”
Last year, 121 teams raised $370,752. This year, the goal is 130 teams.
To help teams register and to give them more information about the relay, an open house is being held at the Canadian Cancer Society office at 300-500 Victoria St. on Jan. 23 from 4 to 7 p.m. Teams will have the opportunity to register online (and get the early-bird rate).
While the relay is not a race, for those involved, it is a race against time to find a cure. Jones-Bricker sums it up.
“We’re making progress with each stride.”