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Optimism outshines heavy rain showers at County’s Relay for Life

relay-for-life-2015When the sun came up Saturday morning, organizers unveiled $104,504.86 raised at this year’s sixth annual event. Over the past six years, more than $1.1 million has been raised in Prince Edward County for the Canadian Cancer Society.

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Emily Reddick captured a perfect rainbow forming over the PEC Relay site.

Emily Reddick captured a perfect rainbow forming over the PEC Relay site.

As the rain pelted down on the Relay for Life opening ceremonies, determination to celebrate and fight back remained strong.

“The rain will stop. I don’t know when, but it will,” promised Tina Rutgers on behalf of the organizing committee. “We may not be winning the war yet, but with your fundraising we are winning battles…  You have done the hard part raising money and now is your time to enjoy. To relax, participate, to visit with your neighbours and find a dry spot.”

Ed Taylor

Ed Taylor

“I’ve had cancer twice,” said Ed Taylor, who with his wife Sandi, operate Honeywagon Farms on Sandy Hook Road. “Twelve years ago I got prostate cancer and was diagnosed here in Picton and had a successful operation in Kingston. I grew up in the 50s and 60s when cancer was referred to as “The Big C” and nobody actually used the “cancer” word. And there was  no forum like this to help the cancer victim, and more importantly, the caretaker which I think is often the tougher job.”

When Taylor was diagnosed he thought it was the end of the world.

“I just thought nothing could be worse and my life was at an end. I happened to attend the Relay for Life –  in Belleville then – and that relay breathed life into me that I never thought I had. There were supernatural forces floating me around the track. I talked to people who had cancer way worse than mine and it really put things into perspective for me. I attended other relays there, and here in Picton, and each one has given me life and has given me hope.”

Taylor said that when a second, stage four cancer came about seven years ago, he, and everybody, thought he was going to die. He said it was this type of occasion that gives hope.

“Don’t look upon this rain tonight as something that’s getting you wet,” he said. “Look upon it like a farmer would, as something that is giving you life. We’re cold and wet but Relay for Life, and the people who organize it, and the folks like you who support it really are wonderful, good people doing noble service to our society. And on behalf of all cancer victims, and those who’ve recovered, thank you very much.”

Mayor-QuaiffMayor Robert Quaiff lost his mother and his father to cancer, and seven of his mother’s siblings. Today, his sister-in-law is going through treatment at the age of 53.

“Cancer does touch each and every one of us in
a different way,” he said.

The former financial advisor with Sun Life recalled that in 1999, one in five individuals was diagnosed with cancer. Today that ratio is one in three.

Quaiff retired in 2009 following the death of his 38-year-old niece who left behind 12, 10 and eight-year-old daughters.

“You should all feel proud of what you are doing this evening. Yes, it’s raining, but you are still going to walk around that track because we have that fortitude of going forward to beat something. Congratulations to each one of you.”

Pam-FralickPam Fralick, president and CEO of the Canadian Cancer Society, has County roots and a home in Milford.

“What you are doing here is the lifeblood of the Canadian Cancer Society,” she said. “We put our money into community services, into taking you to treatment and putting wigs on heads into providing information. We also do research and make sure that the best research, where ever it is in the country, is funded so that when you go to your local treatment facility you get the advantage of that research. And we advocate on your behalf as well for good, healthy policies.

She spoke of her roots in the County and noted her father died here, having battled pancreatic cancer. He’s buried in Cherry Valley.

“I have stories of grief. But everyone has those stories of grief. And what I love about Relay is that it’s hope. It’s optimism. It’s all about that survivorship and the progress that the money raised has bought for us and each and everyone of you has done that.”

Eight-year cancer survivor Cheri Wilkinson rang the “Fight Back” bell to start the Survivor Lap, holding the banner with Robert Mark, also a survivor, and leading those wearing yellow shirts on the first lap around the track.

The amount raised is to be unveiled in the morning.

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PECI Grade 10 business students raised $1.023 for relay through an 'Apprentice' real-life sales adventure.

PECI Grade 10 business students raised $1.023 for relay through an ‘Apprentice’ real-life sales adventure.

Hallowell firefighters and spouses barbecue dinner.

Hallowell firefighters and spouses barbecue dinner.

Paul Johnson and Rob Kellough, of Through the Cedars Music Productions, save the day with sound secured from the downpours.

Paul Johnson and Rob Kellough, of Through the Cedars Music Productions, save the day with sound secured from the downpours.

Black Crick Chicks place some luminaries.

Black Crick Chicks place some luminaries.

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Paint-filled balloons soon obliterate words associated with cancer.

Paint-filled balloons soon obliterate words associated with cancer.

Luminaries are prepared for the evening's moments of silence in remembrance.

Luminaries are prepared for the evening’s moments of silence in remembrance.

Filed Under: cheersFeatured ArticlesHastings & Prince Edward District School BoardPECI - It's a Panther ThingRELAY FOR LIFE

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  1. Tina Rutgers says:

    Excellent article and pictures! You captured the mood and emotions of the evening. On behalf of Sherry, our committee and myself we want to thank the sponsors, media coverage, volunteers, PECI students,our guest speakers, entertainers, sound magicians (you kept us going with the music and great sound) survivors and caretakers and last but not least our teams for helping make this event a success.
    I relay on behalf of my Mom’s memory, Tepske Wagenaar, I miss her everyday and wished that at that time I knew more about what the Cancer Society offered so I could have been there for her, and helped her and my father more.
    I thank the teams for sticking around throughout the rain and cool weather for participating whether all night or a couple of hours you were there! Thank you.
    We hope to keep the Relay for Life event going so please keep this tentative date of June 10,2016 open and please support your teams and the sponsors that support this event.
    I also want to thank our great committee for their commitment and passion. We worked together throughout the year to make this event a success for the teams and I really appreciate your dedication. Thank you.

    Thank you…if I have missed anyone please accept my apologies!

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