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Relaying for life in Hay River

Paul Bickford
Northern News Services
Published Friday, June 18, 2010

HAY RIVER - Hay River's second edition of Relay for Life a national fundraiser for the Canadian Cancer Society raised more than $100,000 overnight on June 11 and 12.

NNSL photo/graphic

Sheryl Courtoreille and her two-year-old son David Schnyder were among many Relay for Life participants dressed in colourful costumes. - Paul Bickford/NNSL photo

Speaking on June 15, Shari Burnstad, the event chairperson for the Hay River Lions Club, said $101,000 had been collected up to that time and she expected the final figure to reach $110,000.

Burnstad is happy with that amount.

However, it is a decline from the phenomenal $204,000 raised in 2008, the first time the relay was held in Hay River.

"I don't know if you'll ever make $204,000 again," Burnstad said, adding she believes the event in 2008 attracted a lot of people because it was a "healing year" for the community following the shooting death of RCMP Const. Chris Worden in late 2007.

The number of walkers also declined from 440 in 2008 to 140 this year.

That could have been affected by a number of other recent community events, such as the NWT Track and Field Championships and the high school graduation, Burnstad said. "There's one thing after another."

She praised the people who participated in the relay this year.

"The teams we had left worked like fiends," she said, adding each person raised about $600 apiece on average, which is about double the national average.

The relay began at about 7 p.m. on the Diamond Jenness Secondary School track with an emotional first lap by cancer survivors.

The 12-hour relay continued until the next morning.

Relay for Life in the South Slave rotates annually between Hay River and Fort Smith.

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