Darren Ng will head off to his first Relay for Life this Friday and immediately leap into the spotlight.
Ng, a science teacher at Brookswood Secondary, will be taking on duties as the master of ceremonies, shepherding on the many speakers who will help kick off the 12-hour cancer fundraiser.
â€œItâ€™s much more than just hosting something,â€ said Ng. â€œMy sister is a [cancer] survivor, my mother in law is fighting it.â€ A cousinâ€™s wife also just underwent surgery.
â€œItâ€™s not just hosting, itâ€™s personal too,â€ said Ng.
Relay for Life organizers invited Ng to pick up the mic after seeing him host the annual Brookswood Secondary cancer fundraiser.
Brookswood Secondary, and several of its feeder elementary schools, have long had connections with the Langley Relay for Life. For years, the school has sent dozens of teenagers on teams. Students there have mentored future Relay team leaders over more than a decade.
Every year the school hosts a big assembly that raises cash and awareness.
This year they raised more than $4,000 in an hour for cancer. Much of the money will go towards Camp Goodtimes, a summer camp in Maple Ridge run exclusively for kids who are in or have survived cancer treatment. It is the only camp of its kind in the province and is a Canadian Cancer Society project.
As a teacher, you get to see both the best and most challenging aspects of students, Ng said.
â€œWeâ€™ve gotten to see the best of them,â€ he said of the volunteer work and fundraising done by Brookswood students.
The kids there show a lot of empathy in the projects they do, and most of their fundraising has its roots in the Relay teams.
Ng put himself out there, and along with some of the school administrators and a student, he left the assembly this year with a freshly shaved head.
When it comes to the new duties as emcee, Ng will have had plenty of practice.
For years he did public speaking as part of his duties on cruise ships for Royal Caribbean, and in 1999 he rode a bike across Canada speaking at schools on Canadian history, part of a government project.
Heâ€™s also been with the Toastmasters, and helped promote road safety with ICBC.
All of that came before he became a teacher and found himself doing a bit of public speaking every day in front of his classes of Grade 9 and 10 science students.
Heâ€™s prepping for this Friday, but much of the groundwork has been done for him by the organizers, for which heâ€™s thankful.
Despite his background, Ng said he didnâ€™t immediately leap to say yes when offered the job.
â€œI personally felt quite hesitant, not because I didnâ€™t want to do it, but because itâ€™s such a huge event with such a long history in the community,â€ Ng said.