I’m not sure I can articulate the range of emotion that lives within a Relay for Life event. My eyes have changed through the years of volunteering as a photographer at the Relay. Five years ago, my dear friend Hope Walls introduced me to the Edmonton Relay for Life event and within minutes my heart was taken by the amazing people that walked the track all of which share a common bond…cancer. Three years ago, my home city Leduc held their very first Relay for Life. My friend Jackie registered “Team Hope” and for the first time I was able to participate in the event as a Relayer along with my lovely girlfriends. I relayed in memory of my Aunty Lorraine, and my friend Chris. Little did I know that just months after walking the track in Leduc’s first Relay, my Dad would be diagnosed with prostate cancer. And so my eyes changed as our family rallied around my Father as he bravely fought cancer. You view life differently when cancer seeps in, some days it invades like a flood and other days like a dripping tap. But it’s always there, hiding in the shadows. I quickly learned cancer is a family disease.
This year as the Relay approached, I put off fundraising a little longer than I usually do and I even considered not participating in the relay…because it hurt. It’s been a tough year of treatment for my Dad. And then I realized that’s the whole point. That’s the reason I Relay…To raise funds to fight the monster. To find purpose within chaos. To etch Hope into the landscape of this beautiful life. To support my Father, because he deserves all the support we can give. I set out to raise what I could and littered my facebook news-feed with pleas for donations.
And then something happened…
I was reduced to tears as the generosity and support of my friends and family poured in to the tune of $5,000.
This Relay for Life, more than any other, held so much meaning. It represents loss and sorrow. It represents the power of community, support, and friendship.
But above all, the Relay for Life represents Hope.
We Fought Back.
Up first was the Survivor banquet.
Let me introduce you to Matt. He’s an incredibly strong man with a powerful story of survival. After he was done speaking, one gentleman stood up in appreciation and the whole room followed suit.
After the supper, we made our way outside for the survivor group photo and balloon release.
They kicked off the Relay with the first lap.
It was so good to see familiar faces from the last two Relays.
This is Al, he is such a sweet man!
The Relay teams on their first lap…
I think Leduc has one of the prettiest walking tracks for the Relay.
These two lovely angels greeted us with a “hello” at every lap, and a “Good Morning” as the sun rose.
The amazing team Hier Power who raised an astonishing $15,500!
I was honoured to be a part of Team Hope. Together we raised $8,670. I sure do love these soft-hearted girls…
Even if you aren’t participating in the Relay, the event is a wonderful place to bring the kids for some fun. There’s always lots to see and do.
The Leduc Kanata Gymnastics Club put on an amazing show of young talent.
As I ran the track, I was very touched by the messages of encouragement to all on some of the luminaries….
We were blessed with beautiful weather, it was even made sweeter as we remembered last year’s June snow storm. The sun shone brilliantly warming all of us Relayers on the track.
Click here for PART TWO of the Relay. It was a beautiful sight to see when the sun went down.
*All images are copyright of the Canadian Cancer Society
As the sun went down, Christine McCourt made her way to the stage to speak at the Luminary Ceremony. Her speech touched all of our hearts. She is such a strong, devoted, and empathetic woman.
After a moment of silence we made our way to our luminaries to light them.
In honour of my soft-hearted Dad Ralph Dicke, who greets each day with a smile and a heart full of gratitude…
Yes, there is Hope Dad.
In memory of our Aunty Lorraine. We miss her vivacious spirit and caring heart…
In memory of my dear friend Chris who’s infectious laughter still sings within my memory. I wish I could stop by her house for a coffee and talk about how amazing her daughter is.
Along this silent track there are stories that live within each luminary lit…
There is more loss than one person should endure in a lifetime.
There are tears of remembrance and hope for strength…
There is respect and understanding…
And most importantly, Hope lives at the Relay for Life. It is the very promise that urges us to the Relay.
As I was taking these photos, the “Hope” luminaries magically transformed into “Cure”.
In Part One, I introduced you to “Al”. He told me that he had a luminary along the track in memory of his Mom. It was only when I downloaded these photos that I realized I laid down in front of his precious luminary to take this photo…
Given the much better weather, the night flew by fast and before we knew it the sun peaked over the skyline. I walked by this devoted young team enjoying the sunrise.
7:00 a.m. marked the end of the Relay and as we were came together for the closing ceremony, I turned around and saw the same team that enjoyed that sunrise gathered together in a supportive group hug.
How amazing is that?
Thank you to the organizing committee of this year’s Leduc Relay for Life. You did an amazing job. Much respect!
Click HERE to go to my facebook page where I’ve uploaded more photos from the event. I will continue to add photos to it as I edit. If anyone wishes to order a print of one of the photos you see here, please use the contact form on this blog to send me an e-mail or give me a call at 780.980.0703. All proceeds will go directly to the Canadian Cancer Society.
See you next year,
*All images are copyright of the Canadian Cancer Society
If you follow my blog, you will no doubt remember buff Brandy! She booked two fitness shoots six weeks apart to document her hard work as she trains for the Alberta’s which is only days away.
Click HERE to view her fitness shoot from six weeks ago. My jaw literally dropped at the difference in her body within such a short six week period! I have so much respect for her dedication, motivation, and work ethic.
Here are two comparison shots to show what Brandy has accomplished with her hard-work!
You amaze me Brandy!
Good luck Brandy! I have no doubt you will be successful.