Relay for Life raises $143,000

High winds and even a power failure couldn’t stop the Langley Relay for Life from raising more than $143,000 this year.

On Friday, the annual Canadian Cancer Society event involving more than 50 teams kicked off at McLeod Athletic Park.

It was a rough day for organizers, who were setting up tents amid high winds all morning at the stadium.

A three-hour power failure at mid day was alarming, but the lights were back on before the event kicked off just before 7 p.m.

Master of ceremonies Darren Ng, a first time attendee, said there was an amazing, inspirational energy in the air as he introduced two speakers who are both cancer survivors.

Both Zuri Seriven and Ann Lysaght are Langley women, and both are members of Abreast with FORTitude, the Fort Langley branch of the Abreast in a Boat dragonboat team.

Seriven was diagnosed with breast cancer at 33, while she was still breast feeding her first child.

After a double mastectomy and treatments with radiation and chemotherapy, the cancer returned in 2012 when she learned it had spread to her liver and lymph nodes.

That was the first time she thought she would die, she told the crowd.

But a course of treatment brought her through, and once she was finished she joined Abreast in a Boat as one of the group’s youngest members. She was at first worried she might feel out of place, but she was happy to be proven wrong.

“There is no age on the boat,” Seriven said.

“Ever moment that I am with theym, they show me that anything is possible,” Seriven said.

Lysaght was also a busy mother when she was diagnosed with breast cancer – her children were all still in school when she found a lump in her breast.

After mastectomy, chemotherapy, and radiation, she kept working, even through treatments, as she was self-employed. There were no anti-nausea drugs back then, she recalled.

“However, and it is a wonderful however, here I am, and I am well.”

She got to see her children grow up and give her eight grandchildren. She joined Abreast in a Boat in 2007.

The group’s mission statement is to demonstrate strong and healthy lives after cancer, Lysaght said.

Members of the team have been coming to Relay for some time as part of the contingent of cancer survivors who take the first lap.

“This is a wonderful place to be tonight,” Lysaght said.

Much of the evening was devoted to fun, with a special award given by the Cancer Society to the Langley Concrete Group.

Mark Omelaniec accepted the award, which thanked the group for donating more than $100,000 over the last decade of the Relay for Life in Langley.

The team of Langley Concrete employees, the Pipesharks, has also been a longtime participant, and is usually close to the top in fundraising, collecting more than $14,000 this year.

“My father passed away from cancer,” said Omelaniec, and cancer has touched many employees, whether personally or through their families.

The team became a tradition and a way for company and employees to give back.

Bev Dornan, a longtime Langley Relay organizer and volunteer, introduced the luminary ceremony, when candles and lights inside white paper bags around the track were lit and the stadium lights were doused at 10 p.m.

“Each flickering light reminds us how fragile life really is,” she said.

Relayers observed a moment of silence and then followed the White Spot Pipe Band around the track before the lights were turned back on.

In the stands, luminaries spelling out HOPE and CURE were lit through the night.

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