Cold weather doesn’t stop Relay for Life supporters

It may have been unseasonably cold and wet for Penticton’s Relay for Life event, but that didn’t stop people from the South Okanagan from doing their bit to help out with the fight against cancer.

Tealya Metzger and Calleen Smith pack up Interior Health team's tent at the Relay for Life Sunday morning. 375 people in 47 teams helped raise over $54

It may have been unseasonably cold and wet for Penticton’s Relay for Life event, but that didn’t stop people from the South Okanagan from doing their bit to help out with the fight against cancer.

The stats were impressive for a cold, rainy night, according to Ed Millman, revenue development co-ordinator for the Canadian Cancer Society. Almost 400 participants, and 47 teams, took part in the event, which started at 6 p.m. Saturday night and ran until 6 a.m. Sunday, raising over $54,000 this year. It was great, Millman said, to see that many people hang out for the night.

“It poured rain. The tents were just saturated,” said Millman, adding that the weather didn’t seem to dampen the participant’s spirits. “It’s always a really positive event. It’s great to see the community involvement — I’ve already had three or four teams email and say they’ll be back next year.

This was the 11th year for the Relay for Life in Penticton, though the event itself has been going for a quarter-decade, spreading from a single event in Washington State to 23 countries around the world, with people devoting their time to the event.

“It’s a bit more of a sacrifice for somebody to say, I am going to stay up all night to fight against cancer,” Millman said, “They know that what they are sacrificing is nothing compared to what the person goes through on their cancer journey.”

It’s the biggest fundraiser for the Canadian Cancer Society according to Millman, who said the society’s flagship event goes deeper than just raising money. It’s a venue for people, he said, to join with others to express themselves and publicly remember someone they have lost to cancer or honour someone still fighting the disease.

“We are celebrating survivorship, and remembering ones we have lost,” he said, adding that it is also about the ongoing battle, referring to the change in tone over the last couple of years.

“It’s celebrate, remember and fight back,” he said. “The relay is one day, but what are you going to do for the other 364 days of the year to fight back against this disease?”