Annual relay undergoes rejig

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May 19, 2016 12:00 AM

Relay for Life "Team Leonard" member, Karen Langier, passes a cheque donation of $1,000 from committee member Kim Smith to go toward her team's event donations. The funds were provided by a pair of local businesses that would normally donate to Smith's team, the Vikings, which is now defunct after it disbanded so members could join the event committee.

The Canadian Cancer Society’s Relay for Life event will be undergoing a few changes this year due in part to the economy, but the same changes are also an effort to draw more people to the event, and focused on being environmentally conscious.
The Relay, which takes place on June 3 at Bud Miller All Season Park, will be shortened for time and some of the celebrations have been altered to avoid unneeded littering.
“We’re going 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. this year; we’re only doing half a night because we usually go the whole night, but we’ve scaled it down to half because of the economy and everything,” said Kim Smith, committee member for the event. “Plus we thought we’d get more people if we scaled it down.”
Also in previous years attendees released balloons into the air to celebrate cancer survivors, but instead they will be dropping flowers into the lake to be more friendly to the environment.
The food, too, has been scaled down a bit to cut costs, with hamburgers taking place of the usual beef on a bun that people enjoyed in previous years.
Relay for Life is going into year 16 this time around, and as the changes show, enthusiasm seems to be slowly fading for the event.
Committee members aren’t backing down from the challenge, though, and are doing their best to bring the numbers back up.
“It’s been a big thing in this community for so long and unfortunately it’s been dwindling down,” said Smith.  “It’s a whole new committee and it was just a bad year last year, (the committee) was put together at the last minute, but this year they’ve gotten a lot more committee members, probably seven, so we’re doing a lot better.”
Smith said the committee got a jump on the event this year and is bringing things back that were missed in 2015.
There’ll be what’s called a “people mover” to take those who can’t walk around the lake, a feature that was missing at last year’s event, and a collection of silent auction items has been gathered from local businesses to help raise more money.
“So little things like that, we’re trying our best with the economy,” Smith said. “It’s not going to be as big as it has been in the past, we’ve had some huge numbers in the past, but this year I don’t think will be anywhere near that.” The committee is shooting for 12 teams and Smith said nine or 10 are already signed up, and it’s hoped last year’s number of survivors will be matched, which amounted in the 100 range.
“But I’m not sure if we’re going to get that; I think we’re not even quite half way there,” she said.
The Relay for Life is important because it brings recognition to cancer and helps get money to the Canadian Cancer Society, with Lloydminster’s portion going to the Saskatchewan chapter.
This money helps people with travel costs get to appointments and provides accommodations when they have to go out of town for treatment.
“I know in my mom’s situation it helped her with her gas costs, going to and from her appointments when she had to go to the city for her chemo or her radiation,” said Smith. “Because they have compassionate houses and stuff, it goes toward stuff like that, so it’s much cheaper for her to stay at instead of a hotel.”
Some of the funds also go to cancer research for breakthroughs in things like medicine and other treatments.
The event is also low on volunteers and people are encouraged to sign up if they have any amount of spare time they can afford, even if it’s just half an hour. Anyone interested in signing up can visit facebook.com/relayforlifelloydminster or contact Kalina Barlow at 306-244-4219.
The event committee will also be available at the Outdoor Farmers Market in the Lloydminster Cultural and Science Centre parking lot on May 21 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.
“They’ll be answering any questions about the Relay, plus they will be doing luminary sales, registering survivors and volunteers as well as event teams.”

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