KENSINGTON — Every year Heather Carver looks forward to the Kensington Relay for Life because she sees it as more than a fundraiser.
To her, it’s a gathering of family.
“It’s like coming back home,” said Carver with a smile on Friday.
Amidst the hustle and bustle of the last minute preparations for the relay that were ongoing at the Community Gardens Arena Complex, Carver seemed to be a person at peace with the organized chaos around her.
She’s certainly no stranger to it all.
She was one of the founding volunteers at the first Relay for Life in Kensington, which was organized by her tourism and hospitality class at KISH.
Now a cancer survivor herself, Carver joined the ranks of people just like her for the traditional survivors lap around the track.
There’s a tremendous amount of comfort in being able to do that, she reflected.
“I started it without having had cancer myself, so when I got my diagnosis it was these people… that gave me hope. They really were such incredible role models and I can’t thank them enough.”
George Aiken was also one of the original supporters of the Kensington relay. He was principal of KISH at the time.
Like Carver, he’s also become a cancer survivor in the years since that first relay.
He feels that it’s important to keep coming back for two reasons, the first of which is to support other survivors.
“It’s a matter of letting everyone in a yellow shirt (survivors) that there is support, we’re in this together, you’re not fighting it alone,” said Aiken.
Secondly, for him, it’s important to keep seeing the other survivors.
“The big thing for me is to see the same faces each year when you come back. It’s like touching base and saying ‘oh, you’re still doing ok?’”
It feels good to be able to do that, he said.
And he wasn’t the only one checking up on old friends.
According to organizers, there were 23 teams in Friday’s Relay for Life, that’s about 300 walkers, plus their various supporters, said Gail MacDonald of the Canadian Cancer Society.
MacDonald said, in total, more than $51,000 was raised at the relay in Kensington.
That money will go towards helping fund life-saving research, and support important programs on P.E.I. and across Canada, she added.
This year’s relay was also a bit different in that it was a joint venture between Summerside and Kensington.
MacDonald said that the two committees realized they were both facing relatively small team numbers so they decided to hold a joint relay.
It worked well, she said, though the committees will make a decision in the lead up to next year’s relays as to whether they will continue to hold a joint event or split them up again.
The Cancer Society had announced earlier this year that they would be moving the Summerside event to an earlier time frame in the hopes of attracting more families to the event.
However, given the low sign up numbers this year the committees will also be re-evaluating that move.
“That’s a question we’ll be asking (participants) here again in out survey. ‘What does relay look like to you?’
“It will be there decision… they’re the ones we want to listen to and figure out what they want,” said MacDonald.
There are still several Relay for Life events planned on P.E.I. for the month of June.
Events take place at Red Shores at the Charlottetown Driving Park on June 7, Westisle Composite High School on June 14 and at the Old Brudenell Provincial Park in Kings County on June 21. Teams can be registered www.relayforlife.ca.
Source: Colin MacLean, The Journal Pioneer