REPORTING · 10th May 2012
The thirteenth annual Relay for Life took place in Kitimat on Saturday, May 5th. Grey clouds hung over the track at Mount Elizabeth Secondary School in the morning during the survivors and caregivers lap of the track. Around $77,000 had already been raised as the teams began their laps.
“It’s rock against cancer. The teams were encouraged to dress in rock and roll themes from the 50s to today,” said Margaret Ferns, Co-Chair for Relay for Life for Kitimat.
One person really rocked. Al Marleau started running the previous night and ran for most of 24 hours.
“We’re doing something that’s never been done since the inception of the relay for life right across the country,” said Marleau. “We have one individual, myself, the captain of the team. I’m going to attempt to run walk for the full 24 hours.”
He ran through the night with the support of his team, Runners for Life, who cheered on every milestone of the run, supported and ran along side him. He ran through the rainy night, through the morning and afternoon. The run took its toll and when he ascended stage later that night, a seat had been prepared for him.
“It’s the most gruelling thing I’ve ever done in my life,” said Marleau at the end of the day.
He kept track of the distance he ran. He finished 174 Kilometres. He thanked his team and the community for supporting them. There was talk about repeating the 24 hour run next year although he thinks it will be the team taking shifts without a single 24 hour runner. He hoped other teams around the province would join him.
He stated Prince George does a 24 hour run but this is the first time, to his knowledge, one person has completed the full 24 hours.
At the end of the day, everyone gathered for the Luminary Ceremony. Although there were less teams and less walkers, an unofficial total had been raised. Counting will continue but the day ended with an announcement of $104,553.
Marleau was called up once more to speak. He told the people gathered he wanted to do a twenty four hour event and informed them last year to bring attention to Cancer. He trained for the run. His family has suffered from various forms of Cancer so he felt he had a responsibility to do something. He stated The Relay was a success.
“I want to thank you all so very much, it’s been an incredible day. Kitimat just is a phenomenal community for fundraising and coming together when it’s really needed. I thank you all so very much,” said Marleau.
Ferns announced she is stepping down as co-chair this year. She will continue to work with survivors and caregivers. She will be replaced by a younger generation naming Ariel and Stephanie.
The person who raised the most money for the Relay, was Al Marleau. He raised $7,645 for the Relay. Runners for Life and Bechtel battled it out all day to see who can raise the highest total. Runners for Life came in with the most at just over $20,000. However, the fundraising is not done yet, as demonstrated when the 50/50 ticket was drawn and the $900 prize was donated right back to the Relay.
Ferns stated her and the other organizers are committed to do what they do for fight Cancer because they have survived Cancer, 25 years between the three of them. They have lost love ones to cancer and they do not want to see others lost. Finally, they want to ensure people will not have to go through what they have been through.
“We want to inspire you not to give up, not to quit,” said Ferns. “I say we have a wonderful community for what people do and the generosity.”
Al Marleau completes his final lap of the evening.