A look into a day at Sacred Heart’s successful Relay for Life Event – raises over $32,000

(Over 100 Sacred Heart High School students participated in the 12-hour Relay for Life on June 1, 2023 at the Oz Dome. The students laughed, cried, shared sentiments and hugged at this incredible event raising funds for cancer patients and survivors. Photos/Slideshow: Kaitlyn LeBoutillier)

Sacred Heart High School hosted their annual Relay for Life event on Thursday, June 1st. At the charity event, they raised over $32,000 for the Canadian Cancer Society. 

Back in March, we wrote an article on Carleton University’s Relay for Life and what the event is like from an outside perspective. So for this article, I thought I would show you what it is like to participate in a Relay for Life event as a team leader/participating member!

Sacred Heart’s Relay event runs from 12:00 pm-12:00 am, the event itself is twelve hours but for a team leader it is a little longer. A few of the other leaders and I showed up at the Oz Dome fields at 11:00 to help set up for the day. Every team sets up a tent as their “home base” for the day, so that was our first order of business. 

The school’s Student-Coordinators Hillary Boehm-Edwards and Nicholas Ebner arrived at the event even earlier to set up the stage, check-in, and opening ceremonies tents. There is so much work that goes into planning, coordinating, and executing a Relay for Life event that goes unnoticed by the participants. These events wouldn’t be possible without the support of organizing teachers, supportive administrators, and diligent student volunteers. 

Once everything was organized and team members started showing up, teams put together their tents and some even decorated to match their team’s chosen theme. Every participating team had to come up with a fun team name and theme to dress accordingly. There were teams like the “Holey Walkamoles” who dressed in all green and decked out their tent with the colour, and teams like “Finding Chemo” who embraced their underwater theme and dressed in tropical attire!

As important as the Relay for Life cause is, and how serious the issue of cancer is, it is important to have fun on days like this, to celebrate all the hard work and fundraising we have done as a school. It was especially important to have fun this year to distract from the blistering heat the day brought.

On what was probably the hottest day of the year so far, over 100 Sacred Heart Students gathered to walk consecutive laps for 12 hours. Needless to say, lots of sunscreen was applied and plenty of water bottles were emptied. The tents served as a great escape in the shade and although there was a prize for most laps completed, participants were encouraged to take breaks from the heat. 

The actual event got started just after noon and began with an opening ceremony. Hillary and Nick, the student coordinators, hosted the ceremonies and had key speakers such as the school’s principal Mr. Hopkins, cancer survivors, Relay for Life representatives, and school board administrators. 

As always, after the opening ceremonies, all participants joined the Survivors in a “Survivors Lap” where we followed them around the track and cheered them on in their journey. Relay for Life is about celebrating those who have completed their fight and those who are still fighting and the Survivors Lap is one of the many ways we do so. 

After the first lap, one baton was given to each team and we put the “Relay” in Relay for Life. One member from each team always had to be walking the track and as mentioned, there was an award for the team with the most laps, so there was definitely some friendly competition. Once the laps were underway, there was cake served and the festivities began!

Relay for Life is a long event, but there is always something to be doing. Each team was in charge of organizing an activitiy for half an hour during the event. Some teams did tug of war, limbo, yoga, or minute to win it games. One team even brought some water guns, which were a very welcome way to cool off.

Another crucial activity in Relay for Life is the Luminary decorating. Luminaries are paper bags with a candle inside and the track is lined with them as the sun goes down. Throughout the day, participants, visitors, and organizers were encouraged to sit at the Luminary decorating sation and write “I Relay for…” followed by why they chose to participate in Relay for Life or to honour someone they know or know of who was affected by cancer

Being a team leader, I spent a lot of time bouncing around doing different things. I organized our activity, decorated luminaries, made sure to get my laps in, and fulfilled my duties as camera-man for the day. I got to document the whole day in different photos and video that would be used here and around the school. 

Relay for Life is such a beautiful event in that, while taking photos I captured big smiles and laughs but also tears and lots of hugs. We went from having a blast on the inflatable jousting activity, to crying among our peers during Open Mic. You don’t realize how many people have been affected in so many ways by cancer until they all have the chance to come up and share their story in front of all their friends and classmates. Open Mic is one of the more emotional parts of the night and honestly could go on for its own twelve hours. Unfortunately, you will have a hard time finding someone who doesn’t have some story about cancer. 

Following Open Mic, we moved into our Luminary Ceremony. It was dark and the track was lined with glowing luminaries, and if the Open Mic hadn’t demonstrated just how many people have a reason to relay, the Luminary Ceremony sure did

After walking two laps around the luminary-lined track, students regrouped in the main area as Caity Castilla played a few songs for the group. Following the performance, Nick and Hillary came back on stage and moved into the Closing Ceremony. 

During the closing, they announced our grand total had reached over 32 thousand dollars. The ceremony finished with them giving out the awards for the night. The team that raised the most money was the “Holey Walkamoles”, who raised over $11 thousand dollars as a team. The most spirited team was “Pretty in Pink”.  And the top three fundraisers were Eva Vukovic ($2,300), Kate Cook ($1,577) and Kate Ward ($1,434)

At the end of the event, everyone got to spend a little more time together until it was ultimately time to pack up all their stuff and head home. After an incredible, moving, eye-opening, and hot day, it was all over. 

Relay for Life is such an amazing event that brings people together for all the right reasons. Teams work together to support the Canadian Cancer Society and learn so much about resilience in not only the twelve-hour event, but all the fundraising they do leading up to it. 

Congratulations to Sacred Heart on their very successful Relay for Life event, I can speak first hand to the dedication and hard work that I saw everyone put in to organizing and achieving it.

If you wish to see a larger version of the photos, click on the first photo and they will be enlarged.


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