Within the next 48 hours, I had received the news that an old and dear friend's father had just been diagnosed with a second brain tumour, another friend's Dad passed away from cancer and then as I am writing up the, "I'm so sorry but..." email to the Relay's organizers, I get an incoming message alert on the cell. *ding ding* It's my dear friend Deanna asking, "So what's happening for Relay this year?" And so, Team Clickin' Cancer's Butt was resurrected, with the talents of Deanna Kyte, Helena of Apple Fresh, Corry-Lyn of of As Eye See It Images, and Miranda of Miranda Wensel Photography. My dearly beloved friend and talented photographer Tawny Robertson stopped by as well, even though she was already committed to the Leduc event and I told her I'd beat her up if she showed up at my event.
When I first started doing the Relay 8 years ago, the event was still growing, and when it peaked about 5 years ago, we were aiming for the million dollar mark. And right around that time, something wonderful was happening - Relays were popping up in the areas surrounding Edmonton. As of 2012, there are Relays (in no particular order) in Strathcona, Leduc, St. Albert, Spruce Grove, Drayton Valley, Camrose, Vegreville, and Fort Saskatchewan.
This year's Relay raked in a paltry $205,000, and while the first several years were such huge events you could barely carve out room to spray yourself with bug dope (or fart) without contaminating someone else's airspace and you literally couldn't see across Foote Field for all the tents in the one-night village, this year there was enough room for people to have full-on wrestling matches, frisbee games, and dance-offs. I felt very disheartened about how small the event was.
But then I started chatting with people, old familiar faces who I've spent this weekend hanging out with every years for 8 years. We caught up on each other's families, talked about our jobs, and visited. With a team of only 5 photographers, we still managed to cover the event from top to bottom, in a very intimate way that wasn't possible when the event was so huge. I also remember all the other wonderful events in support of cancer research that people donate time and money to, in ways that are very personal to them, like the Ride to Conquer Cancer, the Hair Massacure, the Underwear Affair and of course the world's largest single-day fundraising event, the Terry Fox Run, which now occurs in 60 countries around the globe. This is on top of all the individuals, sports teams, and corporate offices who organize their own fundraisers throughout the year. So while it's a little disappointing to learn that the outlying areas are able to compete with (and beat!) a centre as large as Edmonton, the combined total of Edmonton's immediate and combined contributions towards eradicating cancer well exceeds the million dollar mark.
It's my hope that next year, we will have levelled off in our decline here in Edmonton, and the event will start to grow again. But even if it doesn't, I'll be there, toting my camera and sporting a funny-looking cape, and praying that if the Relay in Edmonton ever becomes a non-event, it's because cancer no longer exists.
This year's event photos should be posted over at Zoomphoto by early next week - 100% of print sales is donated back to the Canadian Cancer Society. In the meantime, here are just a handful I managed to grab from my spot in the children's tent...