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‘Relay for Life’ plans shaping up

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The Fort Frances “Relay for Life” is gearing up for its annual event, which will take place June 25 from 11 a.m.- 11 p.m. at the Sorting Gap Marina, in conjunction with the fifth-annual Boundary Waters Dragon Boat Festival.

Both parties are thrilled with the partnership, with dragon boat festival organizer Annely Armstrong-Thorstad noting they are “very excited to share our resources in order to bring a larger and even more fun-filled day to the Borderland.”

Meanwhile, “Relay” organizer Monica Sus said joining together with the dragon boat festival was a huge help for this year’s event.

“Because we have such a small committee, I don’t know if we could have done it without their help,” she stressed.

“I was really thrilled when they phoned me.”

The “Relay for Life” is dubbed an inspirational, non-competitive fundraiser that brings people and their communities together to celebrate life and fight cancer.

It features a festival-like atmosphere that family, friends, and co-workers can enjoy regardless of their age or fitness level.

It involves teams of 10 people who take turns walking, running, or strolling around a track.

“Things are coming along well. We’re really happy,” enthused Sus, noting 12 teams have registered to take part this year.

“We have about 100 people,” she added, noting not every team has 10 people on it.

“That is pretty much what I was hoping for,” she admitted. “I did not do a lot of nagging people.

“If you want to join, join, and if not, I’m not going to twist your arm.”

But Sus added it’s not too late to take part. Teams and individuals interested in participating still can get involved by calling her at 274-7043.

Despite smaller numbers, Sus said the enthusiasm for this year’s event is high.

“I think we have the attitude of whatever will be, will be,” she reasoned.

“Weather is the number-one problem and there’s nothing you can do about it.

“That’s what kind of brought us down the last couple of years,” she noted, adding with a number of changes being made and bad weather on top of it, that really threw everybody.

“I’m just telling everyone to bring a rain coat, bring a shelter,” Sus said. “I just want it to be fun.

“If it rains, we’ll be outside in the rain,” she added. “I doubt we’ll freeze to death.”

Bev McCoy, who has been participating in “Relay” here for the past nine years, is looking forward to this year’s event—particularly because of the new venue at the marina.

Her family started relaying in honour of her late sister, Judy Carter.

“We started it the year she was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer,” McCoy said, noting Carter was there for the first one.

“It was awesome,” she recalled. “They drove her around the track in a golf cart because she couldn’t walk.”

That first “Relay” for McCoy was held at the Point.

“It was so calming,” she remarked. “For our family, it was extremely emotional.

“The first year, Judy was diagnosed and the second year, she was gone only two months,” McCoy noted. “When you looked out over the water, it’s just very quiet and serene.

“It was beautiful.”

With the last few events being held at Fort High, McCoy said she didn’t have the same feeling, so she’s excited to be at the marina this year back by the water.

“I think it’s going to be a really nice, upbeat event,” she predicted. “Everyone seems very enthusiastic this year.

“I really think it’s going to be good this year.”

McCoy added she prefers the “Relay” running from 11 a.m.- 11 p.m. like it is again this year.

When it ran through the night, which was meant to signify the struggle facing those with cancer, she said everyone was crabby.

“Everyone was so tired,” she noted. “But this year, you can feel the lightness in the air.

“People are still going to upbeat.”

The daytime hours also allow for children to participate more easily.

“We have lots of things planned for kids,” Sus said, noting there will be a dance area, a frozen T-shirt contest, scavenger hunts, and much more.

Plus many of the teams will have games for passers-by to play or items for people to purchase.

Food booths, accommodating both the “Relay” and dragon boat festival, also will be on hand for most of the day.

“There will be lots of stuff for everyone in the family,” Sus stressed. “Everyone should come on down and see everything that’s going.”

The “Relay” is featuring a Canadian theme, but Sus noted you might see some American flags, too.

“We chose our theme, but with the dragon boat racers, they have a lot of Americans,” she explained.

“So I went and bought some American flags, too, because we’re just neighbourly type people.”

There will also be a “Survivors” ceremony and lunch.

“We’re going to have a ‘Survivors’ lounge set up,” noted fellow organizer Samantha Manty, adding there will be a tent and some lawn furniture for those who aren’t doing great.

“It will be a comfortable place out of the sun,” she noted.

“It will be in the corner, but they will still be able to see everything that’s going on.”

But organizers also are trying to get an idea of how many survivors will be there, so Manty is asking any who will be on hand to contact her at 274-4803 or via e-mail at s.manty@rhcf.on.ca

She added the “Survivors” lap will be taking place around 12:30-12:45 p.m.

McCoy, meanwhile, said she’s going to continue to participate in “Relay.”

“It’s so near and dear to my heart because my husband has lost a sister and I’ve lost a sister,” she noted.

“You just can’t stop.

“I just feel like we can’t do enough,” she added, saying there always are more people being diagnosed with cancer.

“Friends, family, co-workers—everyone has lost somebody.”

And McCoy feels like she’s making a difference.

“Especially now that we’re connected with the hospital,” she remarked, referring to the final year of the five-year partnership between “Relay for Life” and the Riverside Foundation for Health Care.

“Now, after their first treatment, they can have chemo here and that’s really big,” McCoy said.

“My dad goes for bone treatments here once a month,” she noted. “A few years ago, you had to go to Thunder Bay for all that stuff.

“So I feel we’ve made a big difference.”

Sus asked the Canadian Cancer Society how much money Fort Frances has raised and they couldn’t tell her, but she figures it has averaged $50,000, with some years raising more than $80,000 and others gathering less.

She noted if people don’t want to put in a team, they still can donate to the cause.

From the Grind Up has a drop box for donations or you can support local teams online at http://convio.cancer.ca/site/TR/RelayForLife/RFL_ON_even_?pg=entry&fr_id...

Stop by Pharmasave or other local businesses to buy a luminary in memory of or to honour loved ones.

Luminaries also will be available at the marina that day.

“I’m pumped this year,” McCoy enthused. “We are going to raise lots of money and have fun.

“And that’s what it’s all about.”

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