Saturday, September 5, 2015

Relay for Life prepares for annual fundraiser

Joanie Freeman and Maggie Olson at their booth in the Ranchland Mall

Josh Davis

Relay for Life, a fundraising event to fight cancer, had a booth in Pincher Creek’s Ranchland Mall on Friday September 4, 2015.  They were selling luminaries in support of those who are battling cancer, those currently fighting cancer, and in memory of those who have passed. Joanie Freeman and Maggie Olson stood at the door, explaining the event and their mission to passing people. Relay for Life has joined with the Ovarian Cancer Run to host a single large fundraising event this year. This year their goal is to raise $35,000.  A reasonable goal considering they raised over $39,000 last year.

There are many ways to get involved in Relay for Life. Anybody is welcome to submit a team, with names of their own choosing and are encouraged to get dressed up for the run. Those teams then gather sponsorships and donations for the run. You can also volunteer to help with the relay event, and local businesses can sponsor runners and teams, as well as make corporate donations. The event includes festivities, including all local entertainment, a truck full of donated food, and water for participants. Survivors and those currently battling cancer are also encouraged to attend, since their presence and stories are influential.

The event will also include several ceremonies throughout the day. The first will be the survivor’s ceremony, in which survivors of cancer participate in the relay. This serves as a reminder that cancer can be beaten, and serves as the opening ceremony. Following this, there will be a dedication service, including a short speech by committee member, and cancer survivor, Rosaleen Berger. There will be a caregiver ceremony, in which caregivers of cancer patients are recognized for the support they have given. To close out the evening, there will be a dedication ceremony, in which the luminaries are lit, and a single lap is made in silence to honour those who were taken by cancer.

“The dedication ceremony is incredibly powerful,” said Joanie. “I don’t think there was a dry eye on the field last year. Its magical, it really is.”

Maggie talked about her reasons for her involvement in the organization. “I’ve actually lost a few family members,” she explained. “The most important one was the loss of my sister, at age 42. I was a caregiver to her in the very last days, so I made a promise to her that I would never stop trying to find a cure for cancer.”

“We provide such a comradeship between everybody that’s involved with this. We have a committee of ten that work on this, and it just gives you such a good feeling to know that you’re doing something” Maggie added.

Relay for Life is hosted across the nation by the Canadian Cancer Society, and funds raised by the relay are directed by them. One of the organization’s main goals is cancer research. Maggie explained that treatment has dramatically improved over the last five years, greatly improving the quality of life of those diagnosed with cancer. 65 cents of every dollar raised goes towards Relay for Life’s mission, with 31 cents of every dollar spent at future fundraising events, and 4 cents of every dollar spent on administration. Of the 65 cents invested in their mission, 37 cents is spent on information, services, and programs, with 23 cents spent on research, and 5 cents spent on advocacy measures.

“We want cancer just to be a zodiac sign” said Joanie with a smile.

The local event will be hosted on September 19, 2015, at the Pincher Creek and District Agricultural Society Grounds from 11 am to 11 pm. This will be the second year the event is hosted by Pincher Creek. Though the booth is now closed, you can still make inquiries and contributions about the event at Mrs. P’s within the mall until the day of the relay. You can register at, or call Scott Patterson at 403-317-4658 or Karen Andrew at 403-627-4750. You can follow the organization's Twitter posts at #WhyIRelay.

Relay For Life was awarded Best Overall in the 2015 Pincher Creek Rodeo Parade

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