At least one team

Lack of local volunteers cancels local Relay

Harrison's Relay for Life teams invited to Abbotsford for regional Relay

With Harrison’s Relay for Life cancelled this year, at least one local team is making the drive to Abbotsford to participate in the 2015 Relay for Life.

Moo-ving for a Cure, one of this area’s iconic teams dressed in their dairy cow duds, has signed up for the nearest relay taking place in Abbotsford this June.

Organizers from the Relay for Life called team leader Karen Hatt last Fall to ask whether their team would make the drive if Harrison’s event was shut down. She said they would still do the event this year, though they’re not happy about the change.

“We’ve agreed to go because we still feel that the Canadian Cancer Society is a really good cause,” says Hatt. “Every one of us that’s on our team has been affected by caner in some way or another.”

Harrison’s Relay for Life started in 2012. That year, about $38,000 was raised locally for the Canadian Cancer Society. In 2013, there was more than $33,500 raised and last year’s total brought in $35,000. That’s a total of $106,500 over a three-year period.

Hatt’s team brought in more than $9,000 for the 2014 relay. They have already been fundraising for the 2015 relay through beer garden tips at the Fall Fair and collecting bottles from friends and neighbours. But Hatt thinks they will be hard-pressed to make their fundraising goal of $10,000 this year with the event so far removed from home turf.

The Relay for Life announced in a Facebook post in January that, in spite of the incredible efforts of volunteers and staff, there was a decline in the overall number of Relay for Life participants and the amount of funds raised in some communities across the country. As an organization, the Canadian Cancer Society decided to reduce expenses and host events in less overall areas to focus on some larger, regional events.

Gwen Clyne is team lead, community giving for Canadian Cancer Society and one of the Abbotsford relay promoters. She says cancelling the Harrison relay came down to a lack of volunteers. The Relay for Life is a volunteer-led event with minimal paid staff support.

“There were increasing challenges around getting the volunteer support,” explains Clyne. “Harrison has been a wonderful venue for our event. It wasn’t an easy decision.”

The plan is to put the resources behind Abbotsford’s relay and invite surrounding communities to participate both in terms of volunteers and registered teams.

“We want to welcome everyone, knowing that cancer affects everybody,” says Clyne. “We want to invite all the outlying communities to become part of the bigger regional event.”

This year’s Relay for Life takes place on Saturday, June 13 at the Rotary Stadium in Abbotsford from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. For questions, email Gwen at abbotsfordrelay@bc.cancer.ca or phone 778-874-4915. Teams can register at relayforlife.ca/abbotsford

To donate to Moo-ving for a Cure, go to http://convio.cancer.ca/site/TR/RelayForLife/RFL_BC_odd_?team_id=322192&pg=team&fr_id=18393