Relayers walked through the evening during the 2015 event in Langley.

Langley Relay for Life: Taking cancer battle to stroke of midnight

New hours don’t change the event’s fundamental mission of fighting cancer.

Langley’s Relay for Life is never entirely predictable.

The annual fundraiser for the Canadian Cancer Society will be held Friday, June 3, at McLeod Athletic Park.

Although much will be the same, there are significant changes this year, most notably the shortening of the event from 12 to six hours.

“It’s a strategic change,” said volunteer chair Lynne Robinson. “And people seem to be responding.”

Since Relay began in Langley, it has run from about 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. the following morning.

Although a hardy group of walkers and runners would stick it out through the night, others packed it in early.

Robinson, a survivor of ovarian cancer, said she’s seen new people joining teams.

“We’ve had teams come back that hadn’t participated in the last few years,” she said.

(read more below)

Robinson is extremely busy in the last few days with last minute preparations, and has to be prepared for anything.

In 2015, strong winds knocked out power for most of the afternoon, uprooted tents, and came close to cancelling the Relay outright.

But the weather cleared in time for the walkers to hit the track.

Robinson isn’t just organizing. She’s also participating.

“On that day, I wear a lot of hats,” she said. “I’m a survivor, I’m a teammate, I’m a committee member, and I’m a chair.”

She’ll be working down to the wire.

As of a week before the event, there were more than 50 teams and $90,000 raised already.

More money will be raised in the last week, with donations and contributions coming in on the night of the event itself.

Robinson said it’s exciting to watch the totals keep increasing, day by day. This close to the Relay, there can be a jump of a thousand dollars or more overnight.

The money goes towards the efforts of the Canadian Cancer Society. That includes research for new cancer treatments, but also programs to help cancer patients and their families.

The event itself will kick off with the opening ceremonies and the Survivors’ Lap. Yellow-shirted cancer survivors, some still in treatment, will take the first lap before all the other team members get to start.

Over the following six hours there will be a host of events for those taking a break between laps of the track.

“We’re really trying to make it more of a family-friendly destination,” said Robinson.

This year’s theme is sports, which will mean activities and appearances featuring hockey and athletics (See story page A15).

After dark, luminaries (white paper bags illuminated by candles or light bulbs) will be lit around the track and in the stands.

Mayor Jack Froese will conduct the closing ceremony at midnight.

Robinson is looking forward to the event.

“The survivor lap, that’s near and dear to my heart,” she said.

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