Relay for Life to return

photo courtesy of Nikki Grobbecker Participants take part in a previous Relay for Life in Hay River. The relay has not been held since 2012 but plans are in motion to bring it back to the community.

photo courtesy of Nikki Grobbecker
Participants take part in a previous Relay for Life in Hay River. The relay has not been held since 2012 but plans are in motion to bring it back to the community.

Relay for Life in Hay River has not lost the battle yet.

Plans are in motion to bring the Canadian Cancer Society’s Relay for Life event back to town. The event, which had alternated year-by-year with Fort Smith was a big success in Hay River in the past but has not run since its last turn hosting in 2012.

Nikki Grobbecker, revenue development co-ordinator with the Canadian Cancer Society, said the relay is a fundraiser for the society. Leading up to the event, participants gather pledges and donations. Then from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., the teams walk the track outside Diamond Jenness Secondary School.

“The idea is that cancer doesn’t sleep, so neither do we,” said Grobbecker, who is based in Yellowknife.

During the night there are ceremonies, games and competitions.

“It’s to remember those who have passed from cancer and empower those who are on their journey to beat cancer,” said Grobbecker. “It is a fun event, as well as a time to remember.”

Yellowknife’s event has been going strong each year but a lack of volunteers in Hay River have caused the local event to lapse. In the past, the Hay River Lions members made up most of the Relay for Life volunteer committee.

“Unfortunately, a lot of time and planning goes into this so the committee was just getting to the point where it was too much of a workload,” said Grobbecker. “We appreciate all the support from past and future Relay for Life committee members and volunteers, as well as survivors, participants and sponsors.”

She said the society has been trying different marketing angles to get fresh faces involved but no one stepped up to take on the 2014 event.

“We had a huge plan to get people involved,” said Grobbecker. “We had articles and ads, we reached out to past participants and service clubs.”

Although the event didn’t come together two years ago, a local woman has stepped up to take on 2016’s Relay for Life.

Rachel Daigneault-Durocher works at Harry Camsell School and is hoping to get her fellow educators on board with the event.

“It seems like a big loss in Hay River,” she said. “We’ve all been affected somehow. There is so much struggle in our family with cancer, and we did have a team when it was running before.”

Daigneault-Durocher has a big job ahead of her to pull the event together in the coming months but she is up to the challenge.

“I’ve already got a good start on it,” she said. “I’ve sent out e-mails and got people who have filled out their applications already. It’s a big job but I’ll have help.”

Grobbecker is excited to have hope for Hay River’s event once more.

“Hay River has always been a community that is known for stepping up and helping out,” she said. “I think it’s an important event – it brings the community together and brings awareness to people of our programs and services.”

Hay River was a successful fund source for the Canadian Cancer Society when the relay was going strong here. In 2008, the relay’s best year, the town raised $170,000.

“For a small community to come up with those kind of number is pretty incredible,” said Grobbecker.

The 2016 Relay for Life is set to take place in June.

-Diana Yeager