SACKVILLE, N.B. – October is a month known for pumpkin carving, apple picking, Thanksgiving and Halloween.
In the Tantramar region, the Sackville-Mount Allison Relay for Life was also usually at the top of that list. But not this year.
The local Relay for Life has been postponed from its original fall date until March 2019 as organizers attempt a new format and try to reenergize the event.
Jason Thorpe, the Maritime Relay for Life youth coordinator of the Canadian Cancer Society, said after consulting with the university and community stakeholders previously involved in the event, it was decided to reschedule the Relay so it would coincide with other post-secondary events throughout Atlantic Canada.
“So the main reason is to align the event with other events that happen in Atlantic Canada,” said Thorpe.
He said both St FX University/Antigonish and Acadia University/Wolfville host their Relays in March each year, which have proven successful. St FX, for example, has an enthusiastic and large student committee that organizes the event each year, consisting of 40 members.
Thorpe said the Sackville Relay will now be fully organized and led by a student committee, similar to how the event works in the other university towns. He said this idea was proposed to the previous organizing committee, a mix of community members and students, and it was well received.
“Everybody is all for it,” he said.
Thorpe said the new student committee will be leaning on former organizers, at least in the first year or two, for input and suggestions as they have the knowledge and experience for putting together the Relay. And he reiterated that the Relay itself will be completely open to participation from the community.
Thorpe said students will receive training and support from the Relay for Life youth team, with a couple even selected to go on a leadership retreat later this month with other Atlantic Canadian youth.
As the students gain more awareness of the Relay and its importance, the hope is they will increase engagement on campus, said Thorpe.
“We’re trying to get more student involvement.”
The Mount Allison committee already consists of about a dozen students and Thorpe believes more will jump on board over the next couple of months.
The Relay will still retain some of its original elements, such as the opening ceremony, the survivors’ lap, the luminary ceremony and a closing ceremony. But what happens in between will be up to the committee, said Thorpe.
Each university selects the different fun activities and educational opportunities that will take place, as well as possible vendors, the time and date, and the facility. Thorpe said he’s seen a range of events take place during the Relay – from swimming at a local pool to skating at a local rink or minute-to-win-it games. And it will be up to the students to determine what will best suit their community.
“We want to tailor it to everybody.”
This year will mark the 15th anniversary of the Sackville Relay for Life and Thorpe said he hopes this new format will still serve as a “great opportunity to bring the university and the community together.” He anticipates the first year will start out as a six-hour event but could expand later, once the groundwork has been laid.
“We’re really excited to get going.”
RELAY FOR LIFE
The Canadian Cancer Society Relay For Life is a nationwide event that brings communities together to celebrate survivors, honour those who have been lost and commit to raising funds to fight all types of cancer. Every year, the enthusiasm and support from approximately 100,000 passionate participants means the cancer society can continue to make the most impact, against the most cancers across the country.
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