PHOTOS: Thousands raised for cancer at second annual Gala for Hope

From left to right: Victoria firefighters Jamie Lund, Colin Anderson, Steve Lester, Shaun Collard and Maple Ridge firefighter Lance Sherman pose before the second annual Gala for Hope at Carson Hall Saturday night. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Victoria Fire Department Chief Paul Bruce speaks to the crowd at the second annual Gala for Hope Saturday evening at Carson Hall. Bruce said cancer has affected every member of the department in one way or another. Thousand were raised for the BC Cancer Foundation by the end of the night. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Firefighter Jeff Cullen stands in front of the 2019 Victoria Fire Department’s Ride to Conquer Cancer team – of which he is also a member. The team will cycle more than 200 kilometres across the Lower Mainland to raise money for the BC Cancer Foundation. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Fire gear on display in Carson Hall Saturday night was left out to honour the three members of the Victoria Fire Department who have lost their lives to cancer in just the last few years. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Fire gear on display in Carson Hall Saturday night was left out to honour the three members of the Victoria Fire Department who have lost their lives to cancer in just the last few years. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Thousands of dollars were raised for the BC Cancer Foundation at the second annual Gala for Hope event Saturday night. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Firefighter Jeff Cullen stands in front of the 2019 Victoria Fire Department’s Ride to Conquer Cancer team – of which he is also a member. The team will cycle more than 200 kilometres across the Lower Mainland to raise money for the BC Cancer Foundation. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Signed hockey jerseys were auctioned off at the second annual Gala for Hope Saturday night, along with dinners prepared by firefighters and a couple hours of yard work from a local fire department. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Victoria fire fighter Jordan Elvedahl, Nicole Shisko, Sue Elvedahl and fire fighter Brian Elvedahl pose at the second annual Gala for Hope Saturday night. The event raised thousands for the BC Cancer Foundation through the Ride to Conquer Cancer. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

It was hard to find a dry eye in Carson Hall during the Victoria Fire Department’s second annual Gala for Hope Saturday night.

Faced with roaring apartment fires, piles of smoldering rubble and unpredictable physical threats at every scene – there’s one looming danger to fire crews that’s completely invisible and has taken three from the department’s in just three years.

The fight against cancer is a cause close to the hearts of local firefighters and the community after the losses of former chiefs Richard Couch and Doug Angrove as well as firefighter Stan Thame.

Firefighters have a nine per cent higher risk of being diagnosed with cancer than the general population – and a 14 per cent higher risk of dying from the disease. On Saturday night the gala raised thousands of dollars for the BC Cancer Foundation – some of which will help Vancouver Island hospitals purchase PET scans – ‘positron emission tomography’ imaging that helps doctors more accurately and quickly diagnose cancer.

RELATED: Victoria Fire Department battles cancer with Gala for Hope

RELATED: Victoria Fire Department honours three former chiefs with Ride to Conquer Cancer

The evening featured moving speeches from Mena Westhaver, who’s son survived cancer, and Vancouver Fire Captain Steve Letourneau, who is still battling cancer after a terminal diagnosis in 2014.

The Gala for Hope is the department’s main fundraiser for the Ride to Conquer Cancer, supporting the fundraising efforts of the Victoria firefighter team cycling more than 200 kilometres across the Lower Mainland and ending in none other than Hope, B.C.



nina.grossman@blackpress.ca

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