Close to 2,000 people gathered at McLeod Athletic Park on a sunny Friday evening to celebrate, remember and fight back against cancer at the annual Relay for Life, benefitting the Canadian Cancer Society.
Friends, family and community members lined the track and erupted in cheers as an estimated 100 cancer survivors, adorned in special yellow shirts, walked the commemorative first lap.
“Relay is about heart share and getting pissed off at cancer and wanting to fight back. Many can’t say their lives haven’t been affected by cancer,” said Shannon Todd Booth, community giving co-ordinator for the Fraser Valley region of the Canadian Cancer Society.
With more than $280,000 in donations collected so far, and more still pouring in, the Langley relay has become the third largest in B.C., next to Prince George and Coquitlam.
This year saw an increase from 81 teams last year to 86 teams this year, with 29 brand new. More than 60 per cent of the teams return to relay year after year, helping to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“It was the smoothest event we’ve had to date. It’s never going to be a well-oiled machine because it is always changing. But it’s because of our amazing volunteer workforce that give their time and talent every year that makes all the difference,” Booth said.
“Langley is a community like no other. There is an amazing amount of heart and we are blessed by it.”
Beyond its reputation for size, the Langley relay is also becoming known for its youth participation. More than 20 per cent of the registrations come from youth, many of whom join their school teams for the event.
This year Langley Fine Arts had six teams, Walnut Grove had two teams plus nearly 20 set up and clean up volunteers, Brookswood Secondary had six teams, Langley Christian had two teams, Credo Christian had one team, Noel Booth Elementary had one team and Glenwood Elementary had three teams.
“We take pride in youth participation, they have really made it their own,” Booth said. “From the get-go it has been an event that draws all facets of the community together in terms of participation.”