Relay for Life coming to the PMC
Sean Chase/Daily Observer The Renfrew County Relay for Life will be held at the Pembroke Memorial Centre on Friday, June 22. During an event launch Tuesday, organizers gathered to thank sponsors. In the photo are (left to right) Marilyn Gorr (representing logistics sponsor Access Health Care), Stacey Kelly (Relay sponsor Scotiabank), Griff Slaughter (luminary sponsor Pembroke Hyundai), Elijah McKeown (site sponsor City of Pembroke), Amanda Zappa (survivor sponsor Rexall Foundation), 2018 Relay for Life chairwoman Cindy Giroux, Hugh Martin (representing signage sponsor Sunsign Graphics), Kyle Robinson (media sponsor MyFM), Canadian Cancer Society Renfrew County office manager Roger Martin (representing entertainment sponsor Dunbar Home Inspections), and Brigitte Van Hende (representing lap bead sponsor BNI).
The 2018 Renfrew County Relay for Life will be hosted for the first time in Pembroke when teams of walkers take the fight against cancer to the Pembroke Memorial Centre on the night of Friday, June 22.
Organizers planning the six-hour event held an official launch ceremony Tuesday night at the PMC. The signature event for the Cancer Society, the Relay has collected more than $4 million, however, it has never been held outside of Petawawa since the inaugural event in 1999.
This year's edition will also amalgamate with the Whitewater Relay, which has been held over the past four years in Beachburg. Their goal is to raise $150,000. Event chairwoman Cindy Giroux said that moving the venue to the more centrally located PMC will hopefully attract more participants. Last year, the Relay had only 32 teams raising $103,305.
“This new location will provide not only a roof for inclement weather, but an entire new focus on Relay,” said Giroux. “By becoming more central within the county, our hopes are that we will be accessible to more businesses and family teams, to get involved in the fight against cancer which touches one in every two Canadians in their lifetime.”
The Relay sees participants taking turns walking, running or strolling around the track. The poignant traditions of the Survivors Lap and the Luminary Ceremony will continue to take place. The rink surface at the PMC will be used to host the village, where teams can set up for the evening, while the top of the arena stadium will serve as an elevated track for the walkers. It will be lined with luminary bags bearing the names of cancer survivors or those who have lost their battle with cancer.
“Picture yourself walking a track while hundreds of people – family, friends, co-workers and neighbours – cheer you on,” said Lana Gorr, community engagement specialist with the Canadian Cancer Society Renfrew County Community Office. “As you complete your lap you feel an overwhelming sense of pride in knowing you're united with Canadians in communities across the country to create a world where no one fears cancer.”
This year's Relay for Life Honourary Survivor is Susan Hanniman, a Pembroke resident who was diagnosed with the Philadelphia chromosome, a form of leukemia, in November 2015. Philadelphia chromosome-positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is a relatively uncommon disease, however, it accounts for about one quarter of adult cases of ALL. She underwent a successful bone marrow transplant in April 2016. Although doctors consider her cancer free, Hanniman still needs to go back for check-ups every three months. She said it was important for her to honour this journey she has been on and encourage people to be transplant donors.
“I survived because of science and fundraising. If my diagnosis had been 10 years earlier I would not have survived,” said Hanniman, who has since returned to her job as a school attendance counsellor. “I am back doing everything I want to do and I am blessed. I am very grateful that I live in Pembroke and Renfrew County is unbelievable.”
The Relay is hosted by the Canadian Cancer Society, the largest national cancer charity in Canada whose mission is to eradicate cancer and enhance the quality of life of those living with the disease. There are 330 charities in Canada with cancer in their name but the society is still recognized for its world research and advocacy, said Roger Martin, community office manager for Renfrew County Canadian Cancer Society.
“We are the only one that works in all areas of cancer,” said Martin. “We are the largest non-governmental funder of cancer research in Canada - $1.2 billion and counting. Without the Canadian Cancer Society, many cancer breakthroughs would simply not have happened.”
The survival rate for Canadians with cancer to survive at least five years jumped from 25 per cent in the 1940s to more than 60 per cent in 2016. Cancer is the leading cause of death in the world and in Canada, Martin noted, with people commonly receiving a 45 per cent chance of contracting the disease in their lifetime.
For more information, contact the Renfrew County Community Office at 613-735-2571. You can pick up registration forms now at the office at 467 Pembroke Street West in Pembroke, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.