In its 17th year, the Thompson Relay for Life showed that it still has the power to inspire people, since this latest iteration raised over $100,000 to help fund cancer research.
According to Thompson Relay for Life committee chair Donna Wilson, this year’s event, which took place April 28 at the Thompson Regional Community Centre, attracted 28 teams, which is a step up over the 24 groups that signed up in 2017.
Participation wasn’t limited to citizens of Thompson, since the top-earning group was comprised of residents from Norway House, who raised an impressive $9,560.
The relay itself kicked off around 5 p.m. and ran until 2 a.m. Sunday. Throughout this nine-hour period, each team took turns walking around the designated track in both the C.A. Nesbitt and Gordon Beard arenas.
While both arenas were clogged with a variety of participants, ranging from local business owners to members of Thompson Fire & Emergency Services, a big spotlight was placed on the cancer survivors themselves, who completed the event’s inaugural lap in the Canadian Cancer Society’s signature yellow t-shirts.
Special Const. Robert Cleveland was part of the vanguard during this opening lap, not just because he’s a seven-year veteran of the RCMP, but also because he’s a survivor of stage three colorectal cancer.
During a short speech to the crowd, Cleveland highlighted the importance of events like the Relay for Life, saying that receiving such strong communal support was crucial to his eventual recovery.
“My journey was more than just about treatments and operations,” said Cleveland, who was diagnosed back in 2013. “It was about all the support that I received along the way from family, friends and employers, doctors, nurses, support staff and especially the people that shared their stories with me. They were my mentors.”
Of course, Wilson talked about how funding is an important part of recovery as well, since most of the money raised from these events goes directly into cancer research and clinical trials that end up saving people’s lives.
“Because we have relayed during the past five years, an additional 33 clinical trials were made in Manitoba, providing access to the very latest treatments and procedures for the enrolled 282 Manitoba patients,” she said.
“We have survivors here today that without these drugs they would not be here with us. That is thanks to all of you and thanks to all of our sponsors. We have to help keep this fight going.”
Wilson went on to say that, throughout the last 17 years, the Thompson Relay for Life has raised well over a million dollars for the Canadian Cancer Society, which makes it, on a per capita basis, one of the top earners in the country.
To learn more about the Relay for life, please visit the Canadian Cancer Society’s official website.