Atikokan fifth Relay for Life turned out to be the best yet, both in terms of the weather (no rain!) and the funds raised. The 180 registered participants raised over $40,000.
The event officially got underway at the North Star School grounds at 7 pm Friday evening. Over the course of the next 12 hours, each of the 16 teams had to make sure it had at least one member walking the track. That was easy during the delightful evening hours, touching as night descended and the 500 luminaries lit the track, something of a challenge during the long, cool (3°C) night, and a joy as the sun rose and heat returned.
The honour of making the first lap went to the group of over four dozen survivors, who also enjoyed a special dinner in their honour preceding the main event.
The 16 teams each set up their own campsite, many with portable fire pits. Each had a team name and theme, and most dressed the part: chef hats, team t-shirts, tutus, Hershey kiss headgear and more added an extra touch of fun to the camaraderie and socializing enjoyed through the 12 hours.
The Sound Man provided musical accompaniment, and a variety of local talent took to the stage, which was set up by Lanny Cross. Jinx, Hannah Bazinet, Christy McQuay, Jessica and Shanna Gosselin, and, doing a very well received bit of beat boxing, Donnie Warren, were much appreciated. During the wee hours, an impromptu beauty pageant, featuring paper gowns, provided more than a few laughs.
As the Luminaries died down, the Hope and Cure ceremony, sponsored this year by Ontario Power Generation, helped keep the darkness at bay.
The whole evening certainly lived up to the Relay for Life theme: Celebrate, Remember, Fight Back.
“As a team captain, participant, survivor, caregiver, sponsor or volunteer, you are joining with more than 80,000 others across Ontario in the fight against cancer,” Kyle Van Ravenswaay, the Canadian Cancer Society rep told the assembly. “This year, over 200 communities across the province are taking up the fight, along with many others around the world. Working together, Canadians will raise over $57 million this year. In Ontario, we will raise more than $19 million.”
“Through the support of fighters like you, the Canadian Cancer Society has had the most impact in the fight against cancer than any other cancer charity in Canada. But the fight is not yet won. We can do more.”
He went on to thank all of the supporters of the Atikokan Relay for Life: the sponsors and donors, the volunteers and participants.
The organizing committee this year included Kerri Hensrud (chair), Clorissa Ekstrom (survivors), Jana Anderson (Smart Shop), Therese Gouliquer (health and safety), Tammy Stamler (recruitment and registration), Kristy McQuay (entertainment), Renee Veran (luminaries), Lisa Marusyk (food), and Barbara Wiens (finances).