Calgary Relay for Life

Image: From left to right is Melanie Hampson (WDI), Tiffany Kraus (CCS) and Rod Cunniam (WDI).

Alberta 'Relay for Life' raises more than $155,000 for cancer research

Prior to the event, Caitlin Herrick, organizing staff partner for the event, spoke about Relay for Life and the CCS' relationship with Western Direct Insurance.

This past weekend, the fight against cancer came to Calgary, as hundreds of individuals participated in the Canadian Cancer Society's Relay for Life. Thanks to the generosity of its people, the event was a ringing success and more than $155,000 was raised, which will help bring the world one step closer to finding a cure for the disease.

Prior to the event, Caitlin Herrick, organizing staff partner for the event, spoke about Relay for Life and the CCS' relationship with Western Direct Insurance.

Q: Can you speak about how Relay for Life started and how it has grown over the years?

A: Well, Relay for Life is throughout the country. The first was in 1999 and since that time, we've raised [more than] $55 million across Canada. It's really an exciting community-based event. The intention and goal is to inspire women and families in the fight against cancer, where we celebrate those who have survived. We also remember and honor those loved ones who were lost to the disease, and then we fight back on behalf of everyone who's been touched by cancer.
The background behind the event is that it takes a team to fight cancer, so throughout the event, we have three different ceremonies. The first one is our survivor's ceremony, which is where we open the event with a first lap. Here, our survivors lead the event and champion that first lap. Later on in the night we have our luminary's ceremony, which is where we honor those we've lost. We line the track with luminaries and we light them at dark so they light our way for the rest of the evening. Finally we have our fight back ceremony, which is an opportunity for those who have lost someone or [are] battling [cancer] currently, they have the opportunity to say why they want to fight back and what they're going to do to do that.

Q: How do the funds that are raised benefit those in need?

A: The funds raised in Relay for Life go toward four different areas here at the [CCS]. The money goes to fight all 200-plus cancers through our research projects. We provide a range of community-based support services that people living with cancer, including their families and caregivers, can receive. We influence healthy change through our advocacy efforts and we empower Canadians with the necessary information to prevent and fight cancer, so the funds really help drive those four initiatives we have here at the society.

Q: How are the funds raised?

A: It's basically like a pledge system. So, for example, I would be on a team and my family and friends donate money to me and my team. It is mostly participation-based fundraising. Each participant has a goal they create for themselves and then they go out and fundraise. We have teams that run events through silent auctions throughout the year to raise funds. We also have some teams that solicit their friends and family, so there's a range of different ways they raise money throughout the year.

Q: What's the CCS' goal for this year?

A: For our Calgary Relay for Life we've raised $90,000, and that's what we've raised just online. People contribute offline as well and we've seen about a third of that total offline. Our goal for this year is $100,000, so we're definitely going to surpass that goal this year, which is really exciting. Since we've started in 1999, we've raised [more than] $55 million across the country.

Q: The original Relay for Life was slated for early this year, but as a result of the flooding in Alberta, it was postponed. Were there any challenges that developed as a result?

A: Well, this is a very community-based event and I think it hit home to me how truly community-based it was when the floods hit, because everyone said, "You know, let's postpone it - let's focus on what we should be focusing on and helping people with the flood." Today, everyone that wanted to participate in the Relay originally is still in. We didn't have anyone back out. So it really didn't create as many challenges as I anticipated because our community banded together and did what we needed to do for the flood. Everybody was on the same page, all 500 participants, which was fantastic.

Q: Were there any projects that your organization got involved with regarding the cleanup process for the flooding?

A: [A] team of us met up with Western Direct Insurance and we spent a day cleaning out High River residents' houses and just basically got involved in the cleanup process.

Q: Speaking of Western Direct, how far back does the relationship CCS has formed with them go?

A:  Last year was the start of our relationship. Western Direct came to us, wanting to start a cause-related campaign. This year we've built on that relationship with the Quote 4 Cures campaign, where [with] every car or home insurance quote completed in October, Western Direct Insurance will donate $10 to the Canadian Cancer Society. It's a truly cause-related campaign where WDI really champions the fight against cancer.


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