Relay For Life funds down 50 per cent

Small but enthusiastic crowd still pulls in more than $30,000

By Josh Howald

The format may have changed, but spirits remained high and the purpose was the same.

Unfortunately, the bottom line was not.

Marjorie Bentley, 14, didn't let crutches stop her from walking in the Kincardine Relay For Life Saturday. (Josh Howald photo)


This year's Relay For Life underwent some major changes, and some growing pains were to be expected, said Geoff Van Geem, Manager of the Bluewater Community Office for the Canadian Cancer Society.

"We did make some pretty significant changes by moving it to a daytime event," he said Monday. "And we moved it up to June - historically we've held the event in August."

More than $30,000 was raised for cancer research at Saturday's Relay For Life at the Davidson Centre track. As impressive as that is, last year the Kincardine Relay For Life raised more than $61,000 - more than twice as much as this year's event.

"I can't really pinpoint exactly why the numbers are down, but I did hear there were six different weddings in the area, which perhaps had an impact. With the change of date, people might have been caught off guard as well, which cut into fundraising time."

Only half the money may have been raised, but participants had as much fun as they did any other year.

"Overall, it was a great event, and the people that were there certainly enjoyed it," said Van Geem.

He said the format changes were intended to up participation. In some regards, that was achieved, as more children and young people took part than ever before. Entertainment went on all day, and the always inspirational Survivor's Lap once again drew a large, enthusiastic crowd.

Everybody there had their own reason for walking.

"My mother is a cancer survivor of 23 years, and I just had a cousin die in April," said Leanne Haldenby of Kinlough, one of the event volunteers, while walking the final lap of the night.

"It (cancer) really does affect everybody."

Laura Fohkens and her group, Inspired not to be Tired, certainly did their part. They raised more than $1,000 for cancer research.

"We're here to support cancer victims," said Fohkens as she walked her final lap with her team. "We've been walking all day, but we could keep on walking if we had to - but it's about to end. We've been walking all day, we stopped counting at 50 laps."

Not even an ankle injury could stop Marjorie Bentley, 14. After rolling her ankle during the walk early in the day, she returned after a trip to the hospital and was pushed in a wheelchair by friends. Later in the night, she actually got up and hobbled 10 laps on her own, crutches and all. She did it for her grandfather, currently battling cancer.

"It was a little more difficult, yes," agreed Bentley, who just moved to the area from the Keswick area. "But it was fun. We did a  lot of chatting and made some friends. This was the first time for me to do the Relay in Kincardine."

Which is what Van Geem likes to hear.

"We hope now that the word is out earlier that the numbers will come back up," he said Monday afternoon, adding that while not set in stone, the event will likely stick with the new format.