Keeping Relay for Life going challenging for some

Diane Crocker
Published on June 10, 2014

The Relay for Life has been a major fundraiser for the Canadian Cancer Society Newfoundland and Labrador Division for well over a decade in communities around the west coast.

But like any volunteer-driven fundraiser, keeping them going is getting harder.

“With all events, especially of this magnitude, they do run their course,” said Tarragh Shanahan, community resource co-ordinator with the Cancer Society.

Shanahan said people get burnt out, or they have interest in other things or just need a break.

This year the society lost Stephenville as a Relay for Life site and the Deer Lake event has been on a bit of shaky ground.

Shanahan said there is a meeting planned in Deer Lake for Wednesday evening, but as of now it looks like the relay is a go for Sept. 6.

“There is a pretty much almost brand new steering committee, so it may be smaller. It may be a more simpler version,” said Shanahan who expects to co-chair the event.

While it’s getting harder to keep the event going in some places, in others it’s still thriving.

Port aux Basques held a relay event this past weekend and raised over $61,000. And in Corner Brook, even though the amount raised as been dropping, organizers like Pam Keeping are determined to keep it going.

Keeping said last year’s event raised just over $39,000, down from earlier years of up to $70,000.

Co-chair for the past three years, Keeping has been with the city relay for 12 years and understands how hard it can be keep the relay going.

“It’s a lot of work especially during the summer. And they’re just getting burned out I guess,” she said of current volunteers. “And you’re not getting a lot of new volunteers to help out. I know everything runs its course, and that’s I think probably what is happening, too.”

On the heels of a successful outdoor event last year, the city relay will be held on Sept. 13 in Margaret Bowater Park.

“Outdoors makes a big difference,” she said. “And if you’ve got bands and full activity for the full 12 hours to keep everyone entertained. I’m hoping it’s going to go over good again this year, I’m praying,” said Keeping.

She said one thing that could be considered should interest drop is holding a smaller event like Burgeo does. Keeping has been organizing a six-hour event there for the past six years. Last year it raised $22,000 and this year’s event is scheduled for June 29.

Meanwhile, Shanahan said she doesn’t think anything will ever replace the Relay for Life as bigger centres with strong committees will keep it going. As an alternative for others the society has a new fundraising programs that can be adopted in any community.

St. Anthony stopped its relay few yeas ago and on May 30 held a cancer concert that raised over $10,000.