Contributed by Monica Alves, Special Projects Worker

In the year 2015 alone, 196,900 Canadians were diagnosed with cancer. This means that every 3 minutes, one Canadian was told, “You have cancer.” It’s a cruel and devastating disease that can lead many to feel hopeless and alone. But the Canadian Cancer Society’s Relay For Life was created to fight back.  The Relay For Life has raised over $500 million for the Canadian Cancer Society since their first event back in 1999. These funds are used to support Canada’s most promising cancer research and vital support services for people living with cancer and their families. With their efforts, those facing cancer are given an immense amount of love and encouragement, and victims are turned into fighters. Collectively, donations have helped fund life-saving research discoveries and support programs that have made life easier for those living with cancer.


“I’m a strong supporter of Relay For Life – I know firsthand what type of impact the money raised can have. The stem cell transplant I underwent as part of my treatment was the result of research funded by the Canadian Cancer Society.” – Carrie Walk-Boyd, Hodgkin lymphoma survivor and Relay For Life participant

We here at posAbilities are inspired by what the Canadian Cancer Society stands for and all that they’ve done for cancer fighters and their families. Our values of person-centeredness and inclusion are at the heart of their organization too, so it was naturally important to us to participate in the Relay For Life event for the second year in a row. On Saturday, June 3rd, our team members April Carmody, Bouwe Weirdsma, Juliette Geddes, Maria Carpio, Caleb, and Fay Darby, joined other spirited supporters at the Percy Perry Stadium in Coquitlam. This festival-like fundraising event unites team members, families, friends and collogues to celebrate cancer survivors, current fighters, and those we’ve lost. After a warm up by the stands, survivors that are cancer-free or living with the disease were honoured through the Survivors’ Victory Lap, which kicked off the event with a heartwarming amount of emotional support. The day was filled with music, food, and entertainment. Our team had at least one member walking or running around the track at all times, passing on a baton to each other to symbolize the ongoing fight against cancer. The message rang clear from the moment our team stepped onto the track. The Relay For Life is more than just a cancer walk – it’s a continuous journey.

To celebrate Canada’s upcoming 150th anniversary, the theme for this year’s relay was O Canada. Our team tent and apparel were adorned with red, white, and Canadian pride, and earned us the runner up Team Spirit award! The event ended with the Luminary Ceremony, a quiet walk lit by candle light in memory of those we’ve lost. Candles were placed in bags decorated with messages or names of loved ones. This was not only a mesmerizing sight to see, but also a powerful tribute which offered light and inspiration to the participants.

When asked about the highlight of the day, posAbilities Team Manager, April said “For me, the highlight of the day was the start, there was so much energy and spirit.  You could see that people were passionate about the cause.  It was great to see the survivors lead us to start the event off.  It shows hope that people can fight and win their battle with cancer.”

Our Human Resources and Labour Relations Director, Bouwe said “The highlight for me was the lap we walked in silence at the end. It was gratifying to know that we had accomplished something meaningful with our team and to reflect upon that.”

Together, our team raised $2,206.55, well exceeding our goal of $900! We’d like to thank the following for joining us in the walk: Katherine Neale, Robinson Miranda, Caroline Dagg, Maria’s family, Kelly Ternes, Joseph Croll, Penny Ward, Kim Gryba, Amy Chang and family, Melanie Cortner and family, David McKenny, and Vanessa Haynes.

We also participated in the Blue Couch video this year, in which our team came together and shared why we relay. Everyone on our team had their own reasons for participating in the Canadian Cancer Society Relay For Life, but one thing we could all agree on is that it is unacceptable that 210 Canadians die from cancer every single day. We joined together to do something about it, and will continue to support this cause. At Relay For Life, no one faces cancer alone. This event united a community of people fighting back against cancer. That’s why on Saturday, June 3rd, we sweat it out for survival and walked to help save lives.

Watch last year’s Relay For Life Blue Couch video:

“Unfortunately, a couple years ago I was diagnosed with a tumor in my brain and this could possibly be the last cancer run for me. And I’m hoping that my team continues a legacy and makes lots of money. So, I hope to be here next year. But if I’m not, I just want to let you know – go make a difference. Do it for someone else.