The ‘church mice’ team, made up of, left to right, Diane Fullerton, Laura Estabrooks, Frank and Dianne Oulton let out a cheer before heading out on the walking track during Friday night’s relay. Visit www.sackvilletribunepost.com for more photos. TOWER PHOTO
SACKVILLE, N.B. – The 11th annual Sackville-Mount Allison Relay For Life was another rousing success, according to co-chair Sheila Parker, who paid tribute to the Mount Allison students and residents of Tantramar for their generous support of the event, which took place over the 12-hour period beginning at 7 p.m. Friday and ending at 7 a.m. Saturday morning.
The final dollar figure is expected to surpass $60,000, roughly 80 per cent of the announced goal of $75,000, which had been recommended by the Canadian Cancer Society to coincide with the 75th anniversary of the organization.
"In view of the economic downturn and the vast number of other groups seeking financial assistance I knew the figure was unrealistic," said Parker over the weekend. "However, $60,000 is a nice sum and falls well among the top totals we have received in past relays."
Parker wondered what more organizers could have asked for to have a perfect Relay For Life.
"We had it all – mild weather, full moon, enthusiastic teams, talented performers and hope."
A total of 32 teams walked or danced during the 12-hour event, with Kathy's Krew, as usual, being the top fundraising team, followed by the Moneris Sassy Lads and Lassies, the Determinators and Hunton House Residence. The theme for the relay was A Walk Through Time and several teams dressed in costumes from different eras. Moneris was awarded the prize for the best-dressed team, wearing tie-dye clothing from the ’70s and wigs and headbands.
Randy Geddes, emcee for the evening and dressed in a 1920s yellow pin-striped suit, invited all participants to form an honour guard for the survivors as they performed the Survivors' Walk from the chapel to the library along the quadrangle. Bagpiper Shawna Rogers led the parade to the main stage, with cancer survivor and co-chair Ryan Reid and Malcolm Eliot carrying the banner.
Another cancer survivor, Pam Bowman, sang the National Anthem and then the survivors – our Heroes of Hope – did their victory lap.
The local Relay for Life, initiated 11 years ago by the Yellow Ribbon Society at Mount Allison, has long been organized by students and residents of Tantramar and takes months to finalize. It has proven to be a forum that brings town and university together and Parker says she continues to be amazed by the enthusiasm and energy shown by the students, who provide much of the volunteer work needed to operate such a high-profile event.
Meanwhile, on the night prior to the event, well over 100 survivors and their spouses were treated to a dinner at Main Street Baptist Church and as many as possible returned to participate in the Survivors' Walk.
During the opening ceremonies, Jan Legere, a key figure in the Relay For Life and a cancer survivor from Port Elgin, talked of hope and the importance of support from friends and family while battling cancer.
A highlight of the evening was a special and generous donation of $10,000 from the Mount Allison Students Union, made by Melissa O'Rourke and the MASU committee. The funds were raised by the now-defunct Yellow Ribbon Society.
Refreshments were provided by several area businesses and organized by Lisa Steeves. Participants were free to take the treats, which were located in the Manning room, with entertainment offered by performers like Harold Miller, Jason Maillet, Dan Hilchie, Chris Meaney and Ben Buchanan.
Local musician Ernie Sears coordinated the entertainment for the night along with John LeBlanc, and performing on the main stage were such notables as Del Wheaton and Friends, LP Express and Bordertown.
Parker noted that the "jail 'n bail," which was run by Team Moneris and Dan Hilchie, brought in $300.
Later in the evening, student Mathieu Mina from Hunton House had his long locks shaved with housemates chipping in with $700. Stylists Tammy Stillman and Allison Grant did the job on the university’s football players, which raised another $700.
The luminary ceremony began at 10 p.m. with coordinator Amy Chase explaining the significance. During this period, Wynn Meldrum shared his personal story of losing close friend Don Johnstone while piper Shawna Rogers played Amazing Grace during the time the luminaries were being lit.
A total of 765 were spaced around the quadrangle and provided a spectacular sight as hundreds of participants and organizers stopped to pay tribute to victims as well as survivors of the dreaded disease. Emotions were raw and friends supported friends with a good many tears being shed and, due to the fine weather, the luminaries remained burning during the entire evening. To add a special touch to the occasion, well-known musician Jennie Delmotte sang a song of remembrance, Will You Remember Me, and a song of inspiration, You Raise Me Up.
Throughout the night, a variety of events were taking place, while massage therapists Dawne Boorne and Katharine Hoblyn treated aching muscles of the walkers.
In wrapping up the hugely successful event, Parker said "I feel privileged to have worked with such a dedicated group of young and mature committee members. The blend of town and university students is instrumental in the success of this event. There were definitely some hurdles in organizing, but when I looked at the many faces of the survivors and thought about the sacrifice they have undergone, I knew it was worth every effort."