Thirteen years ago, The Kopetski family were encouraged to put a team in the then Relay for a Friend fundraiser for the Canadian Cancer Society.
Little did anyone realize just how successful that family team would become.
In 2014, with this year’s $22,359.20, Family Fun hit $147,464.69 with their 13 years of fundraising efforts.
“That first year, 2002, we were thrilled to raise $1,300,” Mary Ann Kopetski said.
“And each year we’ve surpassed our previous year’s amount.”
However, Mary Ann said at the end of each Relay event, the family goal for the following year is to donate just $1 more than the previous year.
Back in the first year, Family Fun had 12 members, mostly family but with a few friends. The most team members was the year they had 15 team members.
When asked if they did it in memory of anyone, Mary Ann said it wasn’t until 2009 when her brother-in-law died from brain cancer that their efforts became personal.
“Then we lost Uncle Eugene to cancer in 2011,” she said.
“That was a blow. From then on we lost at least one a year, sometimes three in one year.
“The team has changed somewhat since we lost mum, Uncle Aylmer and Uncle Eugene, they loved to be part of the team, but their enthusiasm lives on in us.”
Family Fun covers two generations of Kopetski family members with one brother, six sisters, a brother-in-law, three nephews, one niece and one cousin Mary Anne counted off.
“We’ve been a stable team now for about 10 years,” she said.
Almost before the current year’s Relay for Life ends, the Kopetski’s are back at fundraising for the next year.
“They say you can continue to contribute after the event is over but we like to finish off one year, then begin the tallying for the next year.
Their bottle and can drive in the Safeway parking lot are once a month from March to October and account for about half the team’s total. One of the sisters made up cards which they all hand out with phone numbers to call regarding picking up bottles and cans.
They also sell Christmas cookies, hold a bake sale in Spirit Square in the spring, have sucker pulls in West Park Mall, deliver Telus phone books and hold hot dog sales at Save-On Foods. This year, teams sold the Quesnel Bakery ginger snaps towards they own team total and Mary Ann said that was a great success. Family Fun sold $600 worth of cookies.
And that’s how you raise more than $20,000.
Each year Mary Ann has her fears they won’t reach their goal but admits, “then we do!”
She credits the support and generosity of the community with helping them raise so much for such a worthwhile cause.
“A big thank you to all our supporters,” she said.
“It keeps us going.”
If Mary Ann has any advice for other teams thinking about Relay for next year, she said start your fundraisers early.
“It’s so much easier to raise the money than to ask for pledges,” she said.
Also get your team registered as early as possible and set up an account for the money you raise.
“Just start small and build your team,” she said.
“Keep everyone enthusiastic and get together often as you work towards your goal.”
“But most of all, plan to spend the entire day in LeBourdais Park on Relay day. Make it a fun day, have things to do and we find about 15 minute shifts are long enough, that’s about two or three times around the track.”