Relay for Life: Gals bring art and crafts to Langley Relay events

Langley’s Relay for Life is in its 10th year, and over those 10 years, a lot has changed, including many of the teams involved.

Teams from schools such as Brookswood or Walnut Grove Secondary see students cycle out, while other teams form, split, re-name themselves, or move on to other things.

A handful of core teams have been there since the very beginning and will be back this year, and one of those is the Gallery Gals.

The team goes back to its foundation by Brenda Alberts, whose husband Kurt was then the Langley Township’s mayor.

Brenda decided she would put together a team and started rounding up supporters centering around the art gallery she runs in the Fort.

“Nobody says no to Brenda!” joked Margaret Wildeman, one of the team’s longtime members.

Over the year, team members have come and gone, and various people have held the mantle of team leadership, but there has always been a group of Gallery Gals at the Langley Relay.

The team’s current leader is Suzan Guest, herself a cancer survivor. She was diagnosed with breast cancer 14 years ago.

“I had two tumours, one sitting on top of the other,” Guest said.

She was lucky, she said, that it was a slow-growing cancer.

She’s not the only cancer survivor, past or present, in the group, and almost every member has a family member who died of cancer or fought the disease.

Guest said she figures it cost the medical system about $10,000 to treat her cancer.

Since she joined the Gallery Gals, her unofficial goal has been to personally raise about $10,000, to put that money forward into the system for others.

“The system gives a lot,” she said.

She’s also lost a brother to childhood cancer and her mother to lung cancer.

Loraine Dickson has also lost family to cancer, and Wildeman lost a friend just last November, reinforcing her desire to help out.

With 10 years of experience, the team has tried a wide variety of fundraising options.

Dickson said that it’s amazing the amount of support they get just talking about the cause and what they’re doing.

They’ve sold artistic items and held pot lucks and pub nights, but over the year the main thing they’ve learned is to keep things simple.

The artistic side of the team also comes out in how it sets up.

Once all the fundraising is done, the Gallery Gals make certain they’re comfortable and have one of the best-decorated campsites at the Relay.

“This year we’re talking about flags,” said Guest.

They have also created special shirts, scarves, and other items to set them apart.

“We did berets,” said Wildeman.

“For those of us who have been around long enough, we actually have a wardrobe,” said Guest. “It all comes out once a year.”

During the drizzle and cold damp of the second year of Relay, Dickson recalls how their tent had candles and hot chocolate.

“We’ve actually had food catered, by a friend who wanted to support us,” said Wildeman.

“It was like a five course meal,” recalled Guest.

The Gallery Gals and their fundraising fully expect to keep coming back. They’ve been introducing more young people onto their team.

“Some of them are still in school,” said Dickson.

“I just think it’s key to see the young people start,” said Wildeman.

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