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Relay for Life tonight at fairgrounds

Bill Boultbee and Kevin Hanbury, of the Wellington on the Lake team, sign up with Brenda Bryant for the eighth annual PEC Relay for Life.

A shortened version of Relay for Life will unfold for the eighth annual event in Prince Edward County this year in hopes to boost the celebration of survivors, and continue the fight to beat cancer.

Though the County event has raised more than $1.18 million for the Canadian Cancer Society, research programs and services, since 2010, rain and declining participation have tempered the event over the past few years.

Teams are now being formed and fundraising events are being organized for the Friday, June 16 relay from 6 p.m. to midnight at the Picton Fairgrounds. Belleville and Brighton’s events remain unchanged, running 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.; Quinte West has changed from noon to midnight.

“We love the nostalgia and the reasoning for the 12 hours and staying up all night in the fight against cancer, but we were finding that there’s so many really good events and fundraisers in the community that everybody is getting spread out,” said Tina Rutgers, PEC Relay for Life chair.

Relay for Life was designed to be a 12-hour event starting at dusk, and ending at dawn as the darkness and light of the night and day parallel the physical effects, emotions and mental state of a cancer patient while first being diagnosed, undergoing treatment, then seeing light at the end of the tunnel.

Organizers saw last year too that many people came to the opening ceremonies but didn’t stay.

“So this year we are going to have a jam-packed, fun-filled event with great entertainment so far including the County School of Dance, Telegraph Narrors, Frere Brothers Kitchen Party, Jamie Pounder and the must-have barbecue by the County firefighters.”

The first lap of Relay for Life is the Victory Lap, featuring cancer survivors and caregivers walking the track in their special yellow T-shirts. These survivors symbolize the strides made in cancer research and treatment. Following, the laps around the track are going to be themed with decades of music and teams are being encouraged to dress up and have fun.

With some Relay for Life Luminaries are Hannah and Lori Brummell.

At dusk, a special ceremony takes place with the lighting of candles in special bags (called luminaries) in memory of loved ones lost to cancer and in honour of those fighting the disease.

“We have lost a few people this year and it is important to remember them, those who are still fighting and those yet to fight,” said Rutgers.

According to the Cancer Society, every three minutes, a Canadian hears the words “You have cancer”. On average, 55 Canadians are diagnosed each day and 216 die.

Funds raised at Relay for Life to go cancer research – often out of Kingston’s hospitals – and to services supporting patients, families and friends.

Cancer remains the leading cause of death in Canada, responsible for 30 per cent of all deaths. An estimated 202,400 new cases of cancer, and 78,800 deaths, occured in Canad in 2016 (new cases does not include non-melanoma skin cancer).

“Survival rates are increasing,” says Luisa Sorrentino, Community Fundraising Specialist for the Hastings Prince Edward and Brighton Community Office. “Progress in research made possible by donations is saving lives more than ever.”

The society’s five-year survival rate for lung cancer remains low at 17 per cent and the rate for colorectal cancer is about average at 64 per cent. However, the five-year survival rate is high for prostate cancer at 95 per cent and breast cancer, at 87 per cent.

“Relay is a good event and it deserves to happen,” said Ron Broadbridge, who has been involved in the County’s event since the beginning. He’s with the ‘Grumpy Old Men plus ‘ team.

“We need to get as many survivors out as we can for that first lap,” he said. “It’s sad to see the number of people that are there, but it’s sadder still to see that people aren’t there.”

Broadbridge recommends everybody buy a half dozen luminaries to honour people you know who are fighting, or in memory of those who are gone.

“There’s nothing like seeing the big total raised at the end, which in this case, will be at midnight. When you see that total unveiled and you know you had a part, it makes it all worthwhile.”

The fundraising is mostly finished by the event, which is mainly to celebrate and honour those who are fighting, and those who have lost their lives to the disease.

Those interested in making a donation, finding out about how to join or support a team, or would like to buy a luminary should see Tina Rutgers at ScotiaBank, Picton, or visit the Prince Edward County Relay for Life Facebook page

The video below, produced by Barry Silverthorn for Countylive.ca, is from Prince Edward County’s first event in 2010.

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