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‘Accepting the baton’: Relay for life raises over $54,000

Relay - The Centre Wellington Relay for Life took place at Centre Wellington District High School in Fergus on May 12. Close to 300 participants raised over $54,000 for the Canadian Cancer Society by walking for 10 hours on the track, finishing with a luminary ceremony. The Fergus Pipe Band led the first lap of the Relay for Life, which included cancer survivors Linda Adams, left, and Brett Turner holding the sign.
Photos by Olivia Rutt

‘Accepting the baton’: Relay for life raises over $54,000

About 300 participants raised over $54,000 for the Canadian Cancer Society during the Centre Wellington Relay for Life on May 12 at Centre Wellington District High School.  

Coordinated by guidance counsellor and cancer survivor Linda Adams, the day started at 12pm with speeches from Mayor Kelly Linton and MPP Ted Arnott.  

“Events like this bring out the best in our community ... (with everyone) working together as a team to do something for a common cause and we’re making a difference,” said Linton.

Arnott said cancer has touched almost every family in Ontario, including his own.

“The work that you’re doing today and the time that you’re spending today and tonight will make a profound difference in the lives of so many people with the money that you’re going to raise,” Arnott said.

Survivors then led the first lap around the track, piped in by the Fergus Pipe Band. After that, the teams were off on their 10-hour relay.

This year’s relay was student driven, which Adams said was inspiring. CWDHS students took over the local event earlier this year.

“The students who are here all have a story about why they are here, mostly because they have been touched by cancer,” Adams said.

“It’s very powerful to see them out.”

Adams is a 15-year cancer survivor. One of the consequences of her treatment was the loss of her voice when nerves to her vocal chords were cut.

“I was told I would never have a voice, and that was pretty dramatic for a teacher and a mother of young children,” she said.

Adams said she had to wear a microphone while teaching because she could not project her voice - but slowly she was able to get her voice back.

“With my voice, I choose to make a difference,” she said.

Adams added the response from the community has been overwhelming.

“Just about every door we knocked on they supported us in some way,” she said.

Fellow teacher Brett Turner, who was recently diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, also marched in the relay.

Turner explained he was diagnosed last year after finding himself with little to no energy, adding it took a while to diagnose.

He started chemotherapy last June and will continue treatment for a number of years.

“I guess the amazing part of the story is how supportive family, friends, students, school, community (are),” he said.

“That’s the part that gets you emotional, is all these kids getting involved and the neighbours and friends delivering meals and all that kind of stuff.”

Turner said he wasn’t able to participate in organizing this year’s relay but he was amazed by the response from students.

“It’s pretty amazing with parents, siblings, staff members, kids from the team, other kids from other classes, every time I look around I try not to start crying,” he said.

“It’s just an amazing show of support,” he said.

“It’s hard for me because everything is so fresh to me.”

Relay for Life committee members Andreann Gigere, a Grade 10 student, and Bronwen Lever, Grade 12-plus student, were the MCs during the day.

Both said cancer has affected them.

“My dad got cancer ... and unfortunately passed away last year, so this event inspired me to do it for him and to help other families affected by cancer,” said Gigere.

Lever added she was participating for her friend who had cancer as a young child and a friend’s mom who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer.

“Cancer is just a really hard thing to face and it’s a really hard thing to talk about and deal with,” said Lever.

“But when you’re accepting the baton, you’re accepting that you’re going to challenge all those things and you’re going to challenge yourself to face all those hard parts of cancer and focus on the good part and the fundraising and getting through it as a team.”

Gigere said participating in Relay for Life helped her through her grief.

“I saw that I’m not alone going through this,” she said.

“There’s a lot of people going through the same thing as I am, and it’s just as hard for everyone, not just me and we can all help each other, and grow strong and fight cancer.”

Adams said donations are still coming in, but the relay and other fundraising efforts have brought in over $54,380 for the Canadian Cancer Society.

The funds are used to support cancer research and vital support services for people with cancer and their families.

Since 1999, Relay for Life events have raised over $500 million in Canada.

May 19, 2017


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