The rain stayed away, but even if it poured, it wouldn’t have dampened the spirits of the 18 teams walking their way to $1 million.
The fourth annual Relay For Life went last Friday night at the Drumheller Stampede and Ag Society grounds, and in its four years, it achieved its goal of breaking the $1 million mark. The announcement of this kept spirits high as they made their way around the track.
"We did it," said jubilant Merridy Martin, event chair. "We made it for Tanya."
Tanya Howard was the founder of Relay For Life in Drumheller. Just weeks before the 2008 Relay For Life, her battle with cancer ended.
"That was her dream, not only to bring the event, but to make $1 million, and we brought her that dream," said Martin.
She said the official total will be known shortly as they are still totaling up the numbers. She added the lines are still open and those who want to donate can still do so.
The event went off without a hitch according to Jason Blanke who emceed the event. The main stage kept spirits strong as participants took time to remember, celebrate and fight back.
Shari Christensen of the organizing committee was especially impressed with the Fire Coulee Bandits who started their set before midnight, and carried on into the early hours of the morning.
“They played until about 2:30 a.m., they played until they had no more material,” said Christensen. She adds the cinnamon buns baked by Dr. Poulsen were a hit for all those who were up at 3 a.m. to enjoy.
The $1 million mark came from all directions. The track was lined with dozens of luminaries, and the Chinookers took the top prize bringing in $20,070 alone. The Greentree Warriors, a team made up of students brought in over $4,000.
“We’ve had teams that have been here for four years and understand the devastation of cancer, and then we had the Greentree Warriors, some may not have been touched by cancer, but they understood how important it is to raise funds for cancer research,” said Blanke.
Along with the celebration, the Luminary Ceremony provided a moment of sober reflection for the toll that cancer has taken on friends, families and those who have battled cancer.
Teri Sparkes led the Luminary Ceremony.
“This year I have felt like I have never experienced before how selfish and cruel cancer is. This year, after this experience, I realize even more how important it is to be aggressive in the fight against cancer so future generations are spared from living in a world where cancer exists,” she said to open the ceremony. “I want to remember, celebrate and fight back for all those loved ones whose lives have been touched by cancer.”