The family and friends of Jerry Gibbons will be back at the Langley Relay for Life this year, as they have every year since Gibbons was diagnosed with cancer.
Gibbons passed away in 2013, at the age of 57.
The team he started in 2011, Papa’s Journey, has kept going strong, year after year ever since.
Gibbons’ sister Lisa Farquharson, publisher of the Langley Advance, remembers that her brother seemed to draw strength from the event.
“I think it just made him feel that he was part of something bigger,” Farquharson said. “Seeing the community rally together gave him strength.”
Like many people, Gibbons had been a participant in the Relay for Life with other teams even before his diagnosis.
He was diagnosed early in 2011 with a brain tumor, and was given about a year to live. However, Gibbons made it out to a second Relay for Life in 2012.
It was a tough time for the whole family.
“It’s pretty tough to see someone go through that,” Farquharson said.
Jerry’s wife Sue went through her own battle with breast cancer simultaneously.
Since Jerry’s passing, Relay has remained important for the family.
Sue and daughter, Tracy Lawrie, organize annual fundraisers where family and friends help out.
Most of the team’s fundraising is small-scale, including their annual car wash held in Murrayville at Fernridge Automotive.
The sizable team will be out again this year.
“Everybody’s pretty excited it’s until midnight,” said Farquharson.
They will design and put stickers on luminaries, which will be lit later in the evening around the track.
“For me, the best part is the lighting of the candles,” said Farquharson. During the luminary ceremony, the lights are turned off and there is a moment of silence for those lost to cancer.
Papa’s Journey is just one of the approximately 50 teams already signed up for this year’s Langley Relay for Life.