BY ANDREW SMITH
NORTH PERTH – Relay for Life is already an established event in the community, but for its 10th year in North Perth participants can expect a much different fundraiser.
Organizer Kathleen Mack said a new year means a new Relay in North Perth, and the Canadian Cancer Society is making some changes to the event across Ontario.
“There are changes globally in the way the Canadian Cancer Society is promoting their signature event,” Mack said. “It’s time for a change, to refresh and re-energize Relay for Life.”
Perhaps the biggest change is a new location and a new time. Previously a 12-hour event held at the Listowel Agricultural Society fairgrounds, this year’s event will run from 6 p.m. to midnight on Saturday, June 13 at the LDSS track. Mack said the shorter time will hopefully encourage families and companies who may not have been able to participate in the 12-hour event.
“Instead of spreading it out over 12 hours, we’ve shortened it to six hours,” Mack said. “They can come, participate and enjoy and still be home at a decent time.”
The shorter event also means that participants don’t need to worry about overnight gear like tents and sleeping bags.
Mack thanks the Listowel Agricultural Society for their support over the last nine years, but that the smaller track at LDSS will result in a more intimate atmosphere as Relay participants line the track for the survivor’s lap.
“As participants line the track to honour them and cheer them on, you’ll be side by side instead of 10, 20, 40 feet away,” she said.
This year Relay for Life has also been opened up to allow individuals to participate without the need for a team, Mack said.
“Teams are still encouraged, but the role of the team captain has changed so they’re not solely responsible to collect everything from the team anymore,” Mack said. “Everybody is responsible for their own fundraising.”
Fundraising has always been a strength for North Perth’s Relay for Life, which has raised over $950,000 in nine years. Although the fundraising goal is for every participant to raise $150, Mack said North Perth has averaged around $300 per person. In turn, that money goes towards helping cancer patients attend their appointments, develop new research and potentially life-saving clinical trials.
“It’s well worth the achievement to raise that $150,” she said. “As in every aspect of every fundraiser, we need fundraising dollars in order to cure diseases.”
Until Jan. 31, participants can take advantage of early bird registration for only $10, which includes a free luminary on the day of the Relay.
A $10 registration will also be offered at the Relay for Life reunion on Feb. 28, at Knox Presbyterian Church in Listowel, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mack said the special reunion will be a chance to learn about this year’s changes, and share stories of past events.
“It’s totally new to everybody, it’s like starting a new Relay nine years ago when a small group of us started to head out,” she said. “The aspects are still the same, it’s just going to be a different fundraising event.”
Volunteers are also needed to help with planning up to the event, and to lend a hand on the day of the Relay. Anyone looking for more information can contact Kathleen Mack at 519-291-1626.
“This community has never let us down,” she said. “Cancer touches everybody, we all know somebody out there. Every step we take at Relay, we are helping to find a cure and provide programs for cancer patients.