The placement of some of the luminaries will spell out the word: Hope. For the ambassador of this year’s Relay for Life, Leanne Schneider wants everyone to take that word to heart.
“I just want to get it out there that there is always hope. Even when you think this could be it for you, there is hope,” she says. “Even in the darkest moments, there is always hope.”
Schneider knows about those dark moments. She is a breast cancer survivor. She remembers being at a Relay for Life and watching all of the survivors, like herself, dressed in yellow t-shirts.
“I remember standing there, looking out at all of those people in their yellow t-shirts thinking ‘Oh my god, I’m really not alone,’” she says. “There is a healing power in it and being there with all of those people who went through the same thing.”
This year’s Relay for Life in Yarmouth will be held Saturday, June 17. The event will run at the Mariners Centre from 6 p.m. to midnight – a change in recent years from when the relays first started out as a 12-hour overnight event.
Niki Lewis, the South West district coordinator for the Canadian Cancer Society, says the shorter event is a good format. It doesn’t require as much of a time commitment from participants, but there is still a lot of fun and beautiful moments packaged into the evening. This year’s relay will also include fundraising by teams during the event.
On the subject of teams, more are needed says Lewis. The number is well below the 20 or so they’d like to see.
Aside from an evening of fun, and an evening to remember and celebrate, the Relay for Life is a fundraiser. Money raised goes to research, which is vitally important. It also supports other things, like the Lodge That Gives, where many people from this region stay when they are undergoing cancer treatment in Halifax. There’s also a Camp Goodtime for kids.
As ambassador for the event, the importance of fundraiser is also something Schneider wants to promote.
“I really try to stress the money that is raised is used for a good purpose,” she says.
Schneider talks about when she received her cancer diagnosis. Stunned, disbelief, she recalls. How did this happen?
“I was never a sick person. I never had broken bones or problems. And then all of a sudden I was so sick. I might by dying,” she says. “I had really dark moments, but even in those really dark moments something would always shine through to me, some message would come through on my phone or something to say, keep going, keep fighting, even when I wanted to lay down and give up.”
She recalls the support she received from the Canadian Cancer Society – the materials, the resources. And then there’s the research that’s resulted in treatments that helped keep her alive and not be as sick while she battled the cancer. That’s not to say there weren’t really bad times, because there were she says. But those bad times could have been so much worse, if not for the advancements.
Schneider will be taking part in the relay with her team: Wonder Woman and the Amazons. She hopes to see many other people take part in the relay too.
“We want you to fundraise, but we just really want you to come because it is a great event and a pretty powerful thing,” she says.
TO TAKE PART:
People can register for the relay as a team or an individual. You can visit the website relayforlife.ca to register. People can also contact coordinator Niki Lewis at 902-247-5165 or by email at email@example.com.
There are also team meetings happening this week for some of the relays in the region that people can also attend to receive information. In Clare a meeting and information session is Tuesday, May 9 at 7 p.m. at Ecole Secondaire de Clare.
In Yarmouth a meeting will be held Wednesday, May 10 at 6:30 p.m. at NSCC.
Tri-County Relays for Life:
• Lockeport (mini YOLO event) June 9
• Clare June 10
• Yarmouth June 17
• Digby June 24