| Jun 18, 2009

Back to HomeFeature Article - June 11, 2009 Third Relay for Life surpasses the oddsBy Julie Druker

The Survivors walk at Sharbot Lake’s Relay for Life in Parham on Friday

The ball field in Parham was taken over on Friday by Sharbot Lake’s 3rd annual Relay for Life cancer fundraising event.

A total of 26 teams from the communities of North and Central Frontenac gathered to honour and remember those who have succumbed to the disease, those who continue to fight it, and those who have beaten it, along with the caregivers who have supported them through it all.

The formal ceremonies began at 7:00pm with hosts Leslie Merrigan and Diane Whan welcoming the crowd. Town Crier Paddy O’Connor rang his bell welcoming the crowd. “You’re back just as enthusiastic, colorful, energetic and amazing as last year.” His speech ended with the words, "Let us cry together; let us laugh together; and let us rejoice together knowing that through our efforts cancer can and will be beaten.”

Claire Macfarlane reminded the crowd that in the last 2 years Sharbot Lake’s Relay for Life has raised $135,000 for the cause, a fact that astonished the Ontario Canadian Cancer Society office in Toronto. After introducing and thanking her team of dedicated committee volunteers Claire explained why the relay starts at dusk and continues on through the night until morning.

She explained, “The light and darkness of the day and night parallel the physical effects, emotions and mental state of a cancer patient undergoing treatment.” She explained that the setting sun signifies the initial diagnosis, the darkening evening - the patient’s darkening state of mind. The late evening signifies the beginning of treatment and the exhaustion and sickness that often accompany it. Pre-dawn symbolizes the ending of treatments, and dawn symbolizes the light and hope that come with having made it through and knowing that life will go on.

Mary Hobbs, the regional director of the Ontario East Division of the CCS, and Larry Cardiff, the CCS volunteer president of the unit council in Kingston, also spoke.

Survivor Coordinator Adele Colby, a cancer survivor herself, had the pleasure of introducing to the crowd 12-year-old Samuel Earl, the grandson of Hazel and Roger Huneault of Parham. The young cancer survivor spoke about his battle with a rare form of eye cancer called retinal blastoma.

Samuel described the ordeal that led to the surgery he underwent as a baby to have his eye removed and the subsequent implant of a prosthetic eye. He joked, “I now have a jar of four prosthetic eyes that I have outgrown.” Now cancer free, Samuel is a testament to the fact that indeed cancer can be beaten.

The grade 7 and 8 students at Sharbot Lake Intermediate School were thanked for the colorful centre pieces they made to decorate the tables in the Survivors’ tent.

The evening continued with the emotional and inspiring Survivor’s Walk. As their names were read these cancer survivors of varying ages and backgrounds, each clad in a yellow ball cap and t-shirt, walked the ball diamond to the tune of “We are the Champions”. The crowd showed their support and admiration with a continuous round of applause.

Next the teams were introduced: The Racing Queens, The Pink Flamingos, The Red Whiners, The Northern Lights and the Hippies for Hope, just to name a few. All were decked out in full costume and cheered as they began walking the initial lap of the track, which began the night-long relay.

For Chair Claire Macfarlane the evening represented the end of a year of preparation by herself, her team and a large number of dedicated volunteers. Though team numbers were down from last year, she said, “Percentage-wise compared to Kingston we’re a piece of cake.” Kingston in the past has had 250 teams and this year had less than 200 participating in the event.

The Sharbot Lake Relay, with 5 fewer teams than last year, still managed to raise a grand total of $65,123.81 - just a few hundred dollars short of last year, another amazing accomplishment.

Claire’s thanks go out to all of the teams, volunteers and corporate sponsors and indeed to the entire community who once again helped to make this year’s Relay another overwhelming success.

Anyone who missed the event but would still like to make a donation can call Claire Macfarlane at 613-279-1133.

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