The Port Hardy Canadian Cancer Society’s Relay for Life Event held on the evening of May 23 drew a huge crowd, many dressed powerfully for the event’s superhero theme. Participants looped the Port Hardy Secondary School track from 6 p.m. to 12 a.m. in teams that fundraised leading up the event. Organizers began preparing early in the day, and by the 6 p.m. kickoff the event area was full of North Island superheros, delicious local food, and tents belonging to different community groups.
One of the organizers, Sabrina Dent, said that the event, now in its 10th year, has organizers beginning to plan in September. Shortly after 6 p.m. a welcome and a warmup from First Choice Fitness staff kicked off the event followed by cancer survivors dressed in yellow T-shirts completing a Survivor Walk that saw them walking under paddles held up by the Dragon Boat team. After the Survivor walk, the rest of the Relay participants joined in. Each team had to have someone on the track the whole time, and a baton was used to trade off between teammates. “This gives people an idea of what it’s like to walk in a cancer survivor’s shoes for one day,” said Dent, adding that “cancer never sleeps.”
The evening included a kids event, a bouncy castle, and an energetic performance by the Team Charlton Highland Dancers early in the evening. Attendees sustained themselves over the evening with fresh popcorn, fruit, chili, beef barley soup, scones, hot dogs from Overwaitea, and the savory salmon burgers, tacos and creamy macaroni salad provided by Marine Harvest.
The grand total raised at the event was $19,188, and the individual raising the most money was Dianna Sexton at $1,320. The top three teams that raised the most money were Bernie’s Dream at $2,630, Ash Kickers at $2,105, and Marine Harvest at $2,027. The award for Team Spirit went to Marine Harvest, Best Dressed was Overwaitea Cheerios, and the Best Costume was Eddie White.
The spirit present early in the evening continued as the sun went down. Paper bag lanterns with heartfelt messages lined the perimeter of the track, providing a soft glow for the relayers who remained until midnight. Several fires burned near the tents dotting the track, and children played soccer in the middle of the field.
As the night drew to a close, only a fraction of the earlier crowd remained on the field, but the mood was still festive as Relayers walked with candles, glow sticks and headlamps, all in the name of supporting the fight against cancer.