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Gone virtual: the Story of Relay For Life and the Fight Against Cancer

“Relay For Life is a community of people fighting back against cancer.” - The Canadian Cancer Society

Relay For Life (RFL) is an annual event hosted by the Canadian Cancer Society in schools, universities, communities, and more. The 6-12 hour event is designed to celebrate those who have beaten cancer, to remember those who have lost their battle, and to raise funds and awareness for future cancer research, treatment, and support. It shows anyone affected by cancer in any way that they are not alone and they are not only their cancer. In normal circumstances, the event intends to parallel the physical and mental exhaustion as well as the never-ending battle that cancer can bring by having one member of a team walk the track at all times. Otherwise, the other team members can participate in the event's fun activities and spend time with one another. This physicality is not possible right now.

The COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing rules have not stopped the organization from fulfilling its purpose, however. RFL has been moved online to June 13th from 7-9pm EST! Registration and event information can be found at www.relayforlife.ca. The event is open; friends and family are welcome to join as there is no team member limit and no registration fee or donation minimum—however everyone should try and fundraise what they can! There will still be many interactive activities and many of RFL’s traditions, including the luminary ceremony.

So far, RFL, just on the Canadian level, has raised over 25 million dollars thanks to the support of its participants. According to the Canadian Cancer Society, almost 1 out of every 2 people will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime; this means everyone knows someone whose life has been affected by the disease or has had the disease themselves, making participation even more important and relevant.

When asked who they relay for, students will say “a parent”, “a relative”, “a friend”, “a neighbour”, “a teacher” and more. Who do you relay for?

(Photos courtesy of Bell High School, Ottawa)

Article Contributors: Linda Duong