By Jonathan Hamelin
After walking around a track through the night, for 12 hours off and on, Jared Wolfe was exhausted. Needless to say, he didn't have any trouble sleeping when he finally got home. But the fact that Wolfe was helping to promote cancer awareness and raise money for the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) helped him fight through the pain and exhaustion.
Wolfe took part in the University of Regina's first Relay for Life last year at the Centre for Kinesiology, Health and Sport. He also helped organize the event, which provides people with the opportunity to celebrate cancer survivors and remember those lost to cancer.
"It's nothing compared to the pain that those who have cancer and their loved ones go through," Wolfe said. He was motivated to get involved because his father is a colon cancer survivor.
"This is just our way of appreciating that feeling."
Wolfe and other organizers/members of the CCS were at a table in the U of R's Riddell Centre on Tuesday to raise awareness about the 2013 Relay for Life event on campus, recruiting volunteers and participants. They are also to be there on Wednesday and Thursday. The relay is scheduled for March 22, 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.
More than $37,000 was raised through the event last year, shattering the organizers' goal of $21,000.
"We thought that [$21,000] was shooting really high for our first year and we surpassed it by 180 per cent, so that was definitely a surprise to all of us," Wolfe said.
Relay for Life consists of teams of 12-15, made up of friends, co-workers and sometimes strangers, who try to raise as much money as possible. Each team camps out in a tent and members take turns walking around the track to represent the struggle involved with cancer. There are ceremonies to honour those lost to cancer and to celebrate the survivors. Furthermore, there is live entertainment along with fun physical activities like yoga and Zoomba.
Nicole Lamers, CCS third party events and corporate development co-ordinator, helped bring Relay for Life to the U of R. Approximately 75,700 deaths in Canada were the result of cancer in 2012, and since it's an issue that obviously affects many students in university, Lamers thought the U of R was a perfect venue.
"Regina's community is different from a student-oriented community, where there are lots of varieties of culture and people from different backgrounds," Lamers said. "We thought that the communities were distinct enough that it warranted its own event.
"As an alumna of the U of R ... I knew that this community really gets behind and supports the students with what they find important."
In 2012, $51 million was raised across Canada for the CCS through Relay for Life. The money goes toward support programs, research, advocacy and different initiatives. As the U of R's event gains more exposure over the years, organizers say they'll be able to contribute even more to this total.
Alexandra Beechy is one new student who became involved with Relay for Life at the university. Her mother was diagnosed with cervical cancer, but the doctors caught it in time. Beechy has taken part in Regina's main Relay for Life event in the past to celebrate her mother, and when she found out there was an event at the U of R she was eager to get involved.
"I think it's really important for an event this big in Regina to be brought to the U of R because I don't think a lot of youth really realize how it impacts you when you or a family member has cancer," she said. "Cancer can impact them just as much as anyone else.
"I have done this before and it's really heart warming. Your heartstrings are pulled. It's really hard to see the people who have been impacted by cancer and fought for their lives."
Jonathan Hamelin is a fourth-year journalism student at the University of Regina. To view more of his work, visit his website.