Relay For Life is the culmination of hundreds of hours of hard work by a legion of volunteers. The event is designed to honour those who are battling cancer, survived cancer and those who succumbed to the disease.
Throughout the day the stage is filled with local entertainers who help made the day special for participants and spectators.
Sharon MacDonald, who organizes this important element of Relay, said it’s never a problem filling the schedule and is happy with this year’s lineup.
“We begin with those who have performed for Relay before and are committed to the event,” she said.
“We start with morning entertainers who appeal to the survivors, easy-going music, then build to high-energy acts as we enter the evening portion of the day.”
This year, MacDonald said, they’re thrilled to add such acts as Tim and Jemma Reeves, the bands Five Point with John Pinel, Orange Years, Correlieu Jazz Band and a special treat, Gold Pan City Dancers.
She also mentioned how privileged Relay is to have Barry McKillican again managing all the sound along with his various family members.
With about 16 different groups performing on the Friendship stage, MacDonald said it was very important to co-ordinate with McKillican on transitioning from one act to another.
“We have dancers, musicians and different groups with different requirements and they all have to transition smoothly on and off the stage,” she said.
MacDonald is MCing the event and requests each group to provide a biography. This way, she can provide background and promotion for anything the performers might have new to their group, or just letting the crowd know a little about each performance.
MacDonald said they had considered bringing in a big name group but everyone was committed to the homegrown aspect of Relay.
“It’s about those people on the track, the entertainment supports them and we’re proud of our local talent; we don’t need to look anywhere else,” she said.
“The bigger variety on stage means more variety of people in the park.”
Relay For Life includes many respectful ceremonies honouring those touched by cancer such as the survivors lap, the Fight Back Team and the lighting of the luminaries.
After the Legion Pipe Band brings the survivors into the park and onto the track, one tradition always touches MacDonald’s heart.
“Three survivors in their yellow shirts, Carol Sisson, Cora Koyama and Marion Cooper, sing Oh Canada. It’s so moving,” she said.
“Relay For Life touches everyone and it’s so emotional for so many.”
MacDonald is looking forward to this year’s Relay, May 26 in LeBourdais Park, and knows the entertainment will again pump up the crowd, but the people in the park also energize the entertainers.
“The crowd is so appreciative. It’s very relaxing but the on stage performers are also very professional. It’s a great show, all day long, right up to 11 p.m.,” she said with a wide grin.
“All the elements are there for a perfect performance from start to finish.”
There’s still time to form a team for the May 26 Relay For Life. For information, answers to questions or how to become involved with Relay, contact Michelle Godfrey, 250-983-8815.