Local cancer survivors Zachary Lloyd, left, and Malcolm Elliot carry a banner as they lead the survivors’ lap around the quadrangle on the Mount Allison campus during last year’s local Relay for Life. SEABORN PHOTO
By Wallie Sears
The 2013 Sackville-Mount Allison Relay For Life will return to the Mount Allison quadrangle following a brief honeymoon with the idea to stage it inside the university’s athletic centre.
Sackville co-chair Sheila Parker says a number of factors played into the decision, not the least being logistical problems and a desire by several of the teams to hold it outside in spite of the possibility of inclement weather conditions. She said the earlier decision had been made on the basis of requests from participants who have faced heavy rains, frosty temperatures and high winds but the overwhelming choice has been to return to the location where it has proven so successful time after time.
As always, the Relay will be held over a 12-hour period, with teams of 10 or more walkers and joggers taking turns. It is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 18, and continue through until 7 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 19.
Planning for the huge event – as many as 50 teams consisting of upwards of 700 members – has been slower that usual this year but tempo has picked up quickly and a good deal of work has been completed. Parker has issued an appeal for volunteers to join the group in order to ensure its success. Working beside her as Mount A student co-chair is Ryan Reid, also a veteran member of the organizing committee.
Several key committee chairs are in place and they assume responsibility for various segments of the organization. For example, Lisa Steeves has returned to take charge of the refreshments, a task she has successfully managed for the past three years. Again, participants may regenerate with food and drink in the Manning Room while taking a break from walking.
Several teams, especially those from places like Port Elgin, Murray Corner and Bayfield, erect tents inside the walking area where members who aren't walking at the time may have a rest before returning to the track. There will also be tents in place offering information and services, and the entire quadrangle becomes a beehive of activity.
Heading the entertainment committee on behalf of the town is well known musician Ernie Sears, which assures a good blend of music, while John LeBlanc is lining up a strong core of campus entertainers so participants may rock throughout the night.
Parker is continuing in her role as luminary coordinator as well as co-chair of the overall event. Under her leadership the number of luminaries has increased and each year at 10 p.m. the entire walkway is lighted, honouring both victims and survivors of cancer as designated by the Canadian Cancer Society. Candles are lit inside fire retardant paper bags, while the names of those being recognized are placed on the bags, which are sorted alphabetically. Students assist those paying tribute to a friend or relative with the lighting ceremony. Working with Parker is student Amy Chase.
Sean Gormley from town and student Molly Chase are in charge of team recruitment and any group or individual interested in entering a unit may do so my contacting either or by seeing Parker. Registration consists of $10 per person and each is encouraged to find sponsors in order to increase the final results, which go for such things as diagnosis, research and treatment of cancer victims. Usually the goal is to have 50 teams involved and on one occasion the total amount raised surpassed $65,000.
It has been announced that the law office of Wynn Meldrum will be the pickup and drop off location for team logs, registration kits and donations.
Parker says several committee chairs are in place but more volunteers are needed. Selena MacDonald is returning as treasurer and registrar while Gloria Turner is to serve as media and publicity chair. Erma Black and Gerry Hart will again chair the survivors committee with one of their tasks being to coordinate the survivors’ dinner. Jan Leger is again the Port Elgin liaison and she has successfully recruited several teams from throughout the region to help make the Relay an overwhelming success. Brittany Hunt is also doubling as registrar.
So, while the committee has been a little slower than usual getting off the mark there is every indication the relay will again be a huge success with teams of walkers expected to enter from throughout the entire region of Tantramar. This is believed to be the lone community holding its fundraiser in October. Everywhere else it takes place in June. Since it was initiated here by the Yellow Ribbon Society at Mount Allison, it isn't feasible to hold in June as students are on summer break. Since they do not arrive back until near the beginning of September, it means they have six weeks to prepare.
And as former chair Lou Lambe has pointed out, "The positive experience of having people from town working side by side with Mount Allison students is invaluable."