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Burgeo Relay for Life celebrates 10 years


Charity event has raised $160,000 and counting for Canadian Cancer Society

BURGEO, N.L. — June Marie Hiscock became involved in Burgeo’s Relay for Life in a unique way.

Hiscock was covering the event eight years ago as a reporter for The Gulf News and felt so moved by the spirit of the gathering, she later signed up to become a participant.

“I remember our United Minister Reverend (Wilson) Gonese walked the relay for six hours, he didn’t stop,” Hiscock recalled. “I was so amazed, I was so inspired that I asked if I could put a team together the next year.”

The act of walking around the track is meant to symbolize the ongoing fight against cancer. The event is typically six hours long, but the fundraising happens over the year preceding the event.

Hiscock is part of a two-person team called Lucky Charms. She has been raising money throughout the year by holding bingo games and selling tickets on a basket of prizes she and her partner put together. She hopes to personally collect $1,000 this year.

Hiscock maintains that Relay for Life is an event for everyone because most people have been touched by cancer in some way.

“My sister-in-law (Bonnie Hiscock) died in 2015, with bowel cancer. She will be honoured at the luminary ceremony this year,” Hiscock said. “My brother Joe survived kidney cancer. He thought he would have to go on dialysis, but the doctor was able to save his kidney. He just called us last week and is now cancer free. I’ve had friends who lived with it and friends who died from it.”

The Canadian Cancer Society, the charity which collects the proceeds, characterizes Relay for Life events as bringing together “teams of family, friends and colleagues to celebrate cancer survivors, remember those we’ve lost and commit to raising funds to fight all types of cancer. Relay for Life is a community of people fighting back against cancer.”

Hiscock finds the day to be powerful and moving.

“It’s a very emotional event, there’s so much grief and yet so much joy,” she said. “I get emotional just talking about it.

“It’s just trying to hold onto that fragile balance of grief and joy. I think if you can allow yourself to feel it and release it, it helps to get it out of your system. “

She continued, “It’s not totally grieving because there’s all this excitement, the colour, beautiful music is being played from the stages, the little children are doing their Zumba. It comes and goes, you’re hugging and crying with someone one moment and half an hour later you’re out on the dance floor with a group of people trying to jump on a balloon to burst it for a prize.”

Overwhelming support

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Relay for Life in Burgeo. Patricia Simms, who initiated the Burgeo event with friend Pamela Keeping, is proud they managed to raise $160,000 over the last decade in a community of approximately 1,300 people. She said support from the community and their sponsors has been overwhelming over the years.

Simms who lost her grandmother, uncle and three siblings to the disease, vows to help find a cure and to try to alleviate the pain and anguish for those dealing with the disease.

“I will help in any way possible because I know those cancer patients are suffering,” Simms said.

This year’s Relay for Life will be held on Sunday, June 10, at Burgeo Academy, starting at 12 p.m. The event will include music, dancing, games, a silent auction, activities for kids, a ceremony to honour loved ones fighting the disease and those who have passed on, as well as a parade and supper. All the money raised will go directly to fund cancer patients and resources within the province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

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