Teams ready to do laps to fight cancer

Event begins with victory lap Saturday at 10 a.m. at Haley Park

About 30 relay teams are taking their mark at Haley Park track this Saturday to raise awareness and funds to fight cancer.

“There are lot of people who have been touched by cancer, in their lives, whether it’s themselves or someone who’s close to them,” said Tara Kowalchuk, the Canadian Cancer Society’s revenue development coordinator for the Kootenay region.

Trail is hosting its 11th relay, where teams of about 12 participants take turns running or walking along the Warfield track for 12 hours. Nearly $100,000 was raised last year and participants have already raked in about $39,000 so far, with more donations expected to come in by Saturday.

The event opens at 10 a.m. with a victory lap, where cancer survivors kickoff the relay with an inspirational start, and at dusk, luminaries are lit during a moving ceremony that pays tribute to loved ones and provides motivation to participants pushing through the relay that wraps up at 10 p.m.

Patty Bielli will recognize a local survivor with the Neil Paolone Award, which was developed in honour of her late husband who lost his fight to cancer after providing a backbone for their son Spencer who had been previously diagnosed.

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“He was an easy-going, fun-loving man with a zest for life and a really positive attidude during our son’s illness and subsequently his own,” she said. “It wasn’t a very pleasant time and Neil had a keep-on-living, keep-on-trucking kind of attitude.”

The honour is given to a local survivor in memory of Neil Paolone, who had “real charisma that was infectious and just kind of grew on you.”

Beyond the relay, there will be plenty of games for the kids, including a bouncy castle, and entertainment.

Locals like Rossland resident Ryan Rosse and his daughter Rachel will also be donating their hair to cancer patient wigs.

They have been growing their hair out for over two years, since their last contribution.

“It is very powerful to see the community come together and to see all the people who have been touched by cancer and all the people who’ve beaten it,” said Kowalchuk.

Each year, more than 400 communities in the nation come together to fight back by supporting the largest fundraiser in Canada.

The Kootenay branch located in Trail offers financial support to help cover travel and lodging expenses for those commuting for treatment; helps runs a cancer information service line, a place where resident can find out up-to-minute information on cancer; and cancer connection, a support program that connects cancer patients with survivors who went through a similar journey.