CORNER BROOK It wasn’t the illness of a close relative or friend that inspired Pam Keeping to volunteer for the first Canadian Cancer Society Relay for Life in Corner Brook a decade ago.
She has lost some friends to the disease in more recent years, but it’s the satisfaction of doing her little part to fight cancer that both got her involved and makes Keeping still want to keep giving of her time and energy.
Keeping was among the original group of volunteers who were so moved by a video showing a similar fund-raiser in the United States that they felt one would work in western Newfoundland.
She was part of the team that staged the first 12-hour Relay for Life in Corner Brook, which raised an impressive $90,000. Since then, other relays have been held in other communities throughout the western region.
She eventually progressed from being one of the legion of helpers who made the first event of its kind in Corner Brook happen to being chair of the luminaries portion of the relay.
For the last couple of years, Keeping has acted as co-chairperson. Not only that, she has also co-chaired a six-hour version of the Relay for Life in her native hometown of Burgeo for the last several years.
“The experience has been wonderful,” Keeping said. “It’s been 10 years, but I am certainly not ready to give it up, like most of the crowd has. It’s part of my blood now and I want to keep it going.”
As that quote indicates, many key volunteers of the Relay for Life’s organizing committee have either stepped back a little or altogether from their contribution to making the relay the success it has been. Those left to make it happen again this year are hoping more people will come forward and, not only help on the day of the event, but also have a hand in the organization leading up to this year’s Relay for Life on June 1.
“It would probably be the most challenging thing they ever did but, once they got it in their blood, they won’t want to give it up,” said Keeping.
Knowing that the volunteer work is appreciated by those people who have survived cancer or who are currently living with it is the priceless reward Keeping is talking about. That feeling comes from listening to survivors talk about their experiences at the pre-event reception held for them or watching them smile as they take their victory lap to kick off the relay.
“You feel how overwhelmed some of these people are that others are doing all this for them,” she said, hoping anyone with some free time to spare or a high school student looking to make up their required volunteer hours will decide the Relay for Life is a cause worth helping.
Areas where volunteers are needed in particular include luminary chair, the survivors’ reception committee, entertainment, security and food and beverage services.
With this year’s Relay for Life in Burgeo moving from September to the middle of June, Keepings own time will be in even more demand for the coming few months.
With February nearly half over, Keeping said time is of the essence to get the organizing committee in Corner Brook filled out with fresh faces and new ideas.
“We really need to get some good people in there to get it on the go,” she said.
Anyone who would like to volunteer for a committee position or as an event day volunteer can call Keeping at 632-4133 or the Canadian Cancer Society’s office in Corner Brook at 634-6542 or email Heidi Kirby at email@example.com .