By Jesse-Ann Hennessey
Special to KingsCountyNews.ca
The first Relay for Life was held in Nova Scotia 12 years ago and, since then, it has grown to include 25 events being held at locations across the province.
Relay for Life is a 12-hour fundraiseing event for the Canadian Cancer Society. This year, it will be held in Kentville June 21, starting at 6 p.m. and ending at 6 a.m. the next morning.
Organizers are already gearing up for the big event.
This year, it’s hoped the Kentville Relay for Life will raise $119,300, said Ashlyn Sulis, district co-ordinator, and Marjo Belknap, leadership chairwoman.
“The reason it’s a 12-hour event is because we start off with remembrance and celebrating, but then we are moving into a new day, a new dawn and a new fight against cancer,” said Sulis.
It’s also reflective of the disease itself, said Belknap.
“When people ask us why we do the event overnight, we say, ‘because cancer never sleeps’,” said Belknap.
You would be hard pressed to find a fundraising event that is like the Relay for life, said Sulis.
“The experience is truly unique.”
The Relay for Life is much more than just a job; it’s a way to give back.
“It’s hard to find someone who hasn’t been affected indirectly or directly by cancer, and I share my own personal connections with it,” said Sulis.
“I’m passionate about the cause and supporting those who are going through a cancer journey and remembering those who have been lost in the battle.”
This is Belknap’s sixth year involved with the Relay for Life and, even though she doesn’t have a direct experience with cancer, she wanted some way to volunteer and give back.
“It’s a great experience, well worth it and rewarding,” she said.
Seeing the event and all the people involved coming together, whether it is the organizing committee, the public or the survivors, is the rewarding part for Belknap.
“When you see all those people come together, and the joy and caring that’s experienced, it’s just phenomenal.”
Sulis said hearing the stories from the people involved with putting on the event and the people who participate is inspirational.
“For me, it’s a real source of inspiration to hear those stories and really see why I work so hard every day to make things happen and do my job to support these events.”
It’s a very emotional event, she added.
“You go through a whole range of emotions that evening participating in things,” Sulis said.
Because all the people involved are local, Belknap said, it makes it feel close to you.
“You feel like what you’re doing is appreciated by people you know.”
One of our goals this year is to get the community more involved and raise awareness about the Relay for Life event, said Belknap.
“The community has been great,” she added, but it’s hoped that a total of 47 teams will register this year. That would mean adding two teams to last year’s total.
“The more the merrier, we would love to have the ball field run out of space to fit people,” Sulis said.
“They’re really the heart of the relay event,” she said.
For every dollar raised, 67 cents of it goes towards the Relay for Life mission.
Visit Relay's website for more information, to volunteer or to register for the Kentville event.