Turnout beats expectations

Paul Bickford/NNSL photo At an initial organizing meeting on Feb. 24, Rachel Daigneault-Durocher, chair of the 2016 Hay River Relay for Life fundraiser for the Canadian Cancer Society, outlined the duties of volunteers heading the committees overseeing various aspects of the event.

Paul Bickford/NNSL photo
At an initial organizing meeting on Feb. 24, Rachel Daigneault-Durocher, chair of the 2016 Hay River Relay for Life fundraiser for the Canadian Cancer Society, outlined the duties of volunteers heading the committees overseeing various aspects of the event.

The first public meeting in the effort to revive the Relay for Life fundraiser has left the main organizer feeling optimistic.

“It’s more than I expected,” said Rachel Daigneault-Durocher of the 10 people who showed up for the Feb. 24 meeting at the community hall. “I was quite happy with the turnout.”

Relay for Life, a fundraiser for the Canadian Cancer Society, was last held in Hay River in 2012, and a scheduled event in 2014 did not take place because of a shortage of volunteers.

Daigneault-Durocher said she was nervous the whole day of the meeting about how many people would show up.

“It’s a good start,” she said. “It’s a positive start.”

In all, Daigneault-Durocher said about 20 people have so far indicated they will volunteer.

“I’m not going to lie,” she said to those at the meeting. “It’s going to be a lot of work. But if we can get the volunteers and our families and our friends, we can do it.”

On the day of the event, 50 to 70 volunteers will be required.

The NWT branch of the Canadian Cancer Society in Yellowknife began late last year trying to revive Relay for Life in Hay River.

The society contacted Daigneault-Durocher, who agreed in January to take on the role of chairperson.

One of the people at the Feb. 24 meeting was Shari Burnstad, who chaired the three previous versions of the event in Hay River.

Burnstad said she was happy to see young people at the organizational meeting.

“These guys will do OK,” she said.

Burnstad also committed to help out wherever she can, although she said she cannot take a leadership role for a committee.

She was ready to chair the Relay for Life in 2014 but only she and five other members of the Hay River Lions Club were interested in helping out.

This year’s Relay for Life is scheduled for June 17 on the track of Diamond Jenness Secondary School where participating teams will walk from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. the next morning.

The fundraising target has been set at $50,000.

The three previous Relays for Life in Hay River – in 2008, 2010 and 2012 – raised more than $400,000 in total.

In the South Slave, Relay for Life began in Fort Smith in 2006. In recent years, the event has alternated yearly between Fort Smith and Hay River.

–Paul Bickford