By Marcia Love
The Southwest community came behind those who have battled cancer and showed tremendous support in the fight against the disease at the Relay For Life in Maple Creek over the weekend.
The event was a huge success, with over $57,000 raised for the Canadian Cancer Society to help in the search for a cure. This amount did not take into account in-kind donations. Although the Canadian Cancer Society set a goal of $89,000 for the local Relay, organizers consider the amount raised very significant.
“I’m thrilled. That’s going to help a lot,” said Sally Miller, co-chair of the Maple Creek Relay For Life Committee with Diane Moss. “Anything that will increase money towards research and education, for me those are two focuses that we have to have.”
About 200 participants on 18 teams – the Brost Busters, Chloe’s Camp, Cypress Credit Union Cats for a Cause, Cypress Hills Hikers, Family Ties, Groove Trotters, Hawaiian Dream Team, Johnny’s Junkers, Make Cancer Extinct, Night Slayers, Pink Panthers, Scattered Scooters, Scheller’s Strutters, Shakers & Movers, Soul Sistas, Striking Tigers, 4-H Fun Runners, and the Meadowlarks – from across the Southwest took to the track Friday evening and took turns walking in support of the cause until Saturday morning.
While the event was set to take place at the ag grounds, it was relocated to the arena at the last minute when a vicious storm came through town. With everything already set up, tents were blown down and volunteers quickly pulled together to move everything indoors, causing a brief delay in the opening ceremonies.
Miller said the event was very successful – an amazing evening where everyone came together.
Marlene Packard and Harvey Peters were the mistress and master of ceremonies, with encouraging words offered by Mayor Barry Rudd and O’ Canada sung by Alana Hansen. The evening began with a round of applause for the dozens of cancer survivors present, who made their way around the track in a survivors’ victory lap. They were then joined by their caregivers.
Sue Dumontel shared her story of remaining positive and refusing to give up when faced with the most difficult time in her life. Diagnosed with breast cancer several years ago, she decided early she was going to do what had to be done, be open about it, and be positive.
“Cancer takes your hair away, but not your hope,” she said of her chemo treatments.
While the news often makes people ask, ‘Why me?’ Dumontel said she found herself asking, ‘Why not me?’ because statistics show the high cancer rates across the country, meaning it could happen to anyone.
In 2013 it was found the cancer had spread to her liver, and her battle began again. After a relapse, Dumontel had her last treatment eight weeks ago and continues to be strong and thankful each day.
“Every day that I’m still here is a good day,” she said. “I am bigger than my struggles.”
As the luminary ceremony began later that night, Shannon French read a touching letter written to her daughter, Chloe, who lost her battle to brain cancer in 2008 at just four-and-a-half years old.
Standing in silence around the luminaries, family and friends held each other as they remembered the loved ones they lost.
The evening brought the reality of the fight against cancer to the home front, with faces and names of those well-known and loved by their community.
Entertainment throughout the night kept everyone pumped to keep going, including music by the Gramma & Grandpas, Christian Cowboys, the Dazzlers, the Two Terrys & Belinda, Janelle & the Misfits, MCCS jazz band, and the local Filipino band. Other demonstrations were provided by the local Tai Chi group and line dancing group.
Several individuals had their hair auctioned off as they had their heads shaved and hair cut to be donated to Locks of Love, and a silent auction brought in more funds for the cause.
Miller is thankful for everyone who gave of their time and came out to support the Southwest Relay For Life.