Sydney and Alex Edwards had plenty of reasons to be at the Langley Relay for Life before this year.
The teenagers, 17 and 15 years old, have a grandfather who has survived cancer, and they started taking part in Relay for Life from a young age, starting at Glenwood Elementary.
But this was the first year the siblings were relaying for their father, Dean, who died from lung cancer in March.
Her dad was diagnosed about a year before he passed away, said Sydney.
He had always been supportive of their involvement in Relay for Life, which raises money for the Canadian Cancer Society.
“He loved it. He thought it was awesome,” Sydney said.
Dean was in chemotherapy last year and was not strong enough to take part in the survivor’s lap which starts every Relay for Life.
Even before that, Sydney and Alex had been involved.
Sydney was in Grade 5 when she joined her first team, even though only Grade 6 and 7 students were supposed to be allowed to take part. She said she wanted to go with some friends and begged to come.
Alex has also participated for about eight years, but was so young when he began that he was only allowed to stay for a few hours. For the last four years, he’s been taking part in the entire Relay, which until this year lasted 12 hours, from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.
This year the teenagers were singled out for special praise at the end of the now six-hour event.
Mayor Jack Froese noted that each of them were tied for the second highest amount of money raised by an individual. Alex and Sydney each raised $4,630.
Their father would want them to keep going, the teenagers said.
“So this doesn’t happen to other kids, and other families,” Sydney said.
A member of Relay’s youth committee for several years, she also has an ambitious goal for the next event.
“Our goal for next year is to get all the high schools [involved],” she said.
At the end of the six-hour event, Froese announced that the Langley Relay for Life had raised more than $130,000 this year, and still counting. Volunteers were accepting donations and selling luminaries through the night to participants and visitors.
This year’s Relay saw a number of changes, including the shorter time, but kept many traditions over the last 12 years. After dark, there was a moment of silence to remember lives lost to cancer, while candles in luminaries were lit around the track.
A sports theme this year meant there was a station where hockey lovers could test the power of their shots, and a boot camp course. Food trucks were kept busy, but many teams also barbecued or brought their own snacks to keep fuelled for the night.
The next Langley Relay for Life, the 13th, is scheduled for June 9, 2017.
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