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Relay for Life emotional experience for participants

by Joseph Quigley

Around 1000 people gathered at Loyalist College for an emotional night Friday to raise $207,000 for cancer research for the 13th annual Relay for Life.

The event featured 63 teams walking around the Loyalist College track and participating in various events over a 12-hour period, starting at 7 p.m. Participants say the event commemorates those who have been lost to cancer, as well as those who have survived it and are still fighting it. Teams work to fundraise as much money as they can to help find a cure for the disease.

A number of runners at the event expressed how important their fight against cancer is, and how great it was to see the Belleville community respond to the event with such numbers.

“Cancer impacts everybody,” said Tracy Cooper, a runner for the Saputo team at the event.

Many people feel the same.

“Cancer touches so many people that we feel it’s our right and our requirement to be able to go and help support,” said Tim Hieuser, one of the runners for the Quintessential Clowns. “I’ll do anything to help my family as well as other’s people’s families so they don’t have to go through the pain of losing.”

The Relay for Life brings out a variety of feelings from its participants, many whom have lost family and friends to the disease themselves. Events range from fun and games to the Luminary Ceremony, where people light candles placed in special bags that each represent someone who has battled with cancer.

“It’s just a whole mix of emotions,” said Christine Kemp, a runner for the Ribbon Sisters team. “It’s happiness, it’s sadness, it’s nostalgia. It’s just nice for everybody to get together to celebrate.”

A number of runners also expressed how good it was to see the community come together to support the relay.

“The community’s awesome,” said Jackie Somerville, team captain for the Roadrunners team. “They support it well. People supporting us by donations, and by sponsoring us, and all the local sponsors…it’s wonderful.”

One of the key parts of the event is the Survivors’ Lap in which those who have survived cancer take the first lap around the track.

“All these people that are here, right now, who may be fighting cancer, and they see all these people who are survivors, it gives them a positive outlook,” she said. “It gets their spirits up, to making them hope that maybe next year, they’ll be walking the survivors lap.”

The event can bring out passion from its participants during the lap.

“It makes you feel very emotional,” said George Rutherford, a survivor of prostate cancer who took part in the Survivors’ Lap. “Cancer is a single kind of a thing. You know you have it. You know what it can do to you. But you don’t realize there are so many others who’ve had it. And there is a big support network there.”

The greatest hope for many of the Relay for Life’s participants is to see a cure that will end cancer once and for all.

“You want to see it eradicated quickly,” he said. “I think more should be done to combat this evil disease.”