LABRADOR CITY, N.L. — The Relay for Life took place June 9 in Labrador City, and while the event’s future is uncertain, what is not in question is that people in Labrador West will always support cancer-related fundraisers.
“We will still continue to raise money for cancer no matter what,” Relay committee member Dawn Willcott said in a recent phone interview, “because it’s one of those (causes) that’s extremely important to a lot of us. We have family and friends affected and we’ve lost family and friends to cancer.”
The Relay has been taking place in Labrador West for 15 years. Seven teams took part in this year’s event.
While the event has been termed a success, with over $28,000 to contribute to the Canadian Cancer Society — which includes a $10,000 donation from the Iron Ore Company of Canada — there was much more interest in the fundraiser in earlier years, according to Willcott.
Early into the event, she said, participants raised over $150,000 one year, with the fundraiser attracting more than 40 teams.
Willcott has been on the organizing committee for 14 of the Relay’s 15 years.
Having given so much of their time over the years to the initiative, Willcott and many others on the organizing committee — including committee chair Thelma Ricketts — are stepping back and looking for new blood to take over the Relay – particularly in a lead role.
“Some of our members will continue on if someone comes and takes on the lead role. Someone without a full-time job would probably be the best to do it,” she said.
Change is good, Willcott said, and with it comes new ideas.
“A new committee coming in would be fantastic,” she said.
She believes a new committee might also have suggestions on a different type of fundraiser other than a relay.
“There could be a battle of the bands, a community relay as opposed to a Canadian Cancer Society relay,” Willcott said. “There are just all kinds of ideas out there that would be an opportunity for someone to take on.
“We’d like to see a younger generation pick up where the older generation has left off.”
In a Facebook post about the annual fundraiser, Willcott said it’s not unusual for people to approach members of the organizing committee about why so much money is raised for the Canadian Cancer Society and why volunteers don’t just support people in the community who are battling the disease.
Both supports are necessary, she said when asked about those comments.
“You need to donate to a local (fundraiser) and to the Canadian Cancer Society, because without the Canadian Cancer Society, the research can’t take place,” she explained. “You look at the longevity of our survivors and the people who are being cured from cancer. That can’t be done if you are just putting all your money locally.”
Willcott said it’s important for people to know that funds raised in the province through the Relay stays in the province.
“The Relay is a Canadian (Cancer) Society event that we do here in Labrador West and in Goose Bay, and all of the proceeds stay in Newfoundland and Labrador,” she stated.
Willcott thanked not only the town and the volunteers, but also business owners and individuals who have contributed to the Relay’s success over the years.
She is confident such support will continue, although perhaps in a different way in the future.
“This is a vibrant community,” she said. “There are a lot of very strong people that live here that are very supportive and compassionate in whatever they need to support... whether it be for diabetes or cancer or for any other reasons, the donations that come out of (Labrador West) are amazing.”