Contributed by Gabriela Torres
Every year, community members around the world gather to fight against cancer by taking part in the Relay for Life – a fundraising event where participants walk, jog or run around a track passing a baton to one another. The baton is a powerful symbol that represents one’s personal commitment to the fight against cancer. The atmosphere at the Relay for Life is inclusive of all who have been touched by the disease and want to fight back. In 2015, over 330 relays took place across Canada uniting community members of all ages. The relay is composed of several elements. A survivors lap, a luminaria ceremony and a fight back ceremony. During the survivors lap, those who have won the battle against cancer celebrate their victory. The luminaria ceremony is an after dark component of the Relay for Life where candles are lit inside bags and placed around the track. Its purpose is to remember those who lost their lives to cancer, honour those who have fought, and support those who are still fighting. The fight back ceremony inspires participants to take action in the fight against cancer. It is emotionally powerful and symbolic of the ways we can commit ourselves to finding a cure.
Over the past years, Relay for Life has raised over $496.5 million dollars in funds for the Canadian Cancer Society. The donations made are used to advance cancer research, create support services for patients and their families, develop new approaches to therapy and improve the quality of life for those being treated. Donations are also used to provide proper transportation to and from treatment facilities for people battling cancer. The advancements in research, support services and quality of care have allowed for a higher survival rate among those affected by the disease.
Our posAbilities team was extremely excited to participate in the Relay for Life at Percy Perry Stadium in Coquitlam. As an event that encompasses community gathering and togetherness our team members were given the opportunity to bond outside of their usual work environment. This was the first year members from posAbilities participated in the event and wow, what a great year to begin! 2016 was the 25th anniversary mark for the Relay for Life. It was filled with upbeat energy, positivity and high spirits as people from the community gathered in celebration of life and remembrance of those lost. As a team, we worked together taking steps towards making a positive difference. Each team member was supplied with a pedometer, used to track the steps they took while doing laps. The total number of steps recorded was 155,197. However, this number doesn’t come to include the steps of those we missed due to some broken pedometers.
Though the sun was glaring, the heat did not stop us. Together we raised $4,062.04! This was approximately $2,500.00 over our initial goal of $1,500.00.
“I felt like our efforts and contributions into raising the amount that we did can be attributed to that support for one another, and through all of this, I think we truly captured what it means to work as a team.” – Megan Haliburton
The Relay for Life brought our posAbilities team members together in a way that encompassed support and recognition for the efforts contributed to the event. The members of our team shared a touching moment during the closing ceremony when small lanterns were lit and released into the air. At this time, all relayers participated in a final lap of silence. For Team Manager, April Carmody, the noise from the day subsided as she took in this special moment. Being an organization that values unity and community involvement, gathering to support a good cause was inspiring. Cancer is a disease that has affected us all in one way or another. Celebrating the lives of those with cancer, honouring those who are continuing their fight and remembering the loved one’s who have been lost, was truly eye-opening. We hope to continue supporting our community in the fight against cancer next year and look forward to contributing to the cause in any way that we can.
Thank you to all who participated in the Relay for Life.