Melanie Bishop and Julia Velikovsky

Relay for Life takes over Westhills Stadium

All night event in Langford helps celebrate life, remember those taken and fight back against cancer

After six years on the West Shore, the Relay for Life is now our own.

The Victoria Relay for life was previously held at West Shore Parks and Recreation but this year, the Canadian Cancer Society deemed Greater Victoria large enough to host two Relay for Life events. One was held in Fernwood earlier this month and on June 15 the newly named Westshore Relay for Life will be held at Westhills Stadium in Langford.

“It’s a great venue and has less wind than the Juan de Fuca soccer fields,” said Julia Velikovsky a co-chair of the event. The 2012 fundraiser was shut down at midnight due to high winds.

Last year 250 people participated and raised $91,000. This year organizers hope to draw more people and break last year’s number by bringing in $95,000.

Money raised goes to the Canadian Cancer Society.

The 12-hour event begins at 6 p.m. with a Celebrate Ceremony where cancer survivors walk the first lap wearing yellow T-shirts.

“We celebrate that 62 per cent of people diagnosed with cancer will survive,” said Melanie Bishop, leadership co-chair. “The sea of yellow shirts gives us hope for a better tomorrow.”

At dusk the Remember Ceremony will begin and the track will be lined with luminary bags representing people who have lost their lives to the illness.

“Their light guides us through the night,” said Velikovsky, adding during the ceremony people walk one lap in silence. “It’s a roller coaster of emotions.”

At 5:30 the next morning is the Fight Back Ceremony where participants come together to fight back against cancer.

Participants are encouraged to make personal pledges to live healthier lives that may include quitting smoking, eating healthier or exercising more.

“We know 50 per cent of all cancers are preventable,” Bishop explained.

The Relay for Life is non-competitive and people of all abilities are welcome to attend.

Bands will play music and children can partake in entertainment from Daisy the Cow, games and activities.

Registration is $20 per person and each person is asked to collect $100 in pledges. No alcohol or pets are permitted during the event. It’s open to all ages and each team will be issued a camp spot to set up a tent for resting. The event ends at 6 a.m.

“The spirit of the event is to have someone on the track from each team at all times,” Velikovsky said.

“Cancer doesn’t sleep so why should we?”

Deadline to register is June 14. Visit www.relaybc.ca or call 250-592-2244 for details.