Monday, June 13, 2011

Alexander Watchhurst written up when his team raises 13k or cancer research

Dufferin Relay for Life raises $131K

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Battling cancer can last a lifetime, but raising money to help find a cure took less than a day.
On Friday (June 10), Dufferin County’s second annual Relay For Life welcomed residents to a 12-hour fundraiser and festival at the Orangeville fairgrounds to celebrate the lives of cancer survivors and its victims, while raising money for the Canadian Cancer Society.
More than 300 supporters and 55 teams walked through the night, and helped raise an estimated $131,000 in pledges and donations, a number Lynn Lowe, chair of Dufferin County Relay For Life, was thrilled to see.
“It’s phenomenal,” she said. “The teams really came to bat this year and the team totals were just fantastic.”
Last year, the event raised $53 million across Canada and just more than $100,000 in Dufferin County. Lowe said she was confident they could beat their previous total this time around, and was proud to see a large number of younger supporters at this years event.
“We had a great youth presence,” she said. “It’s amazing how many of those guys stayed up and partied all night long and just kind of kept this energy going.”
The opening ceremony allowed local cancer survivors to perform a lap in a course lined with homemade lanterns, to a surrounding and cheering crowd consisting mostly of the teams, united in outrageous fashions, that were responsible for the money raised.
“Last year (the teams) got a taste of (Relay For Life),” Lowe said. “But this year so many teams put forth such a great effort.”
From dusk until dawn, multiple bands entertained the committed crowd while various meals and selections of food were continuously served throughout the night.
Games such as a three-legged race and wheelbarrow races were among the activities that kept the festival alive during the wee hours of the night and into morning.
“Cancer does not stop for nighttime,” Lowe said. “Relay For Life is overnight because cancer never sleeps.”
Orangeville District Secondary School student Alexander Watchurst addressed the crowd early on, thanking the volunteers and committee members for organizing Dufferin County’s second Relay For Life, a cancer fundraiser Watchurst has been attending and supporting since 2003.
“When people deal with cancer, they feel alone,” Watchurst said. “But events like Relay For Life can bring together people in only a way that people who have faced cancer can understand. It brings them together to feel like a family.”
Having been diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia at two years old, Watchurst battled cancer during the early stages of his life. He was forced through treatments for the better part of three years, and at age five, was told he had overcome the disease.
“I was told I could go back to living a normal live,” he said. “But there’s always the risk afterwards that you could relapse and the cancer could come back.”
But the time he spent in hospitals motivated the 18-year-old to continue the fight against cancer, and since his first encounter with Relay For Life in Brampton, it’s been a cause and event he’s proudly supported with his friends and family.
At this year’s event, Watchurst’s team, The Watchurst Basement Dwellers, personally raised $13,000 in pledges and donations and placed first for most money raised among the 55 teams. But Watchurst was just happy to see the community band together through the fundraising process.
“It’s so amazing to see a small community like Orangeville bring in all that money and come together and create such an empowering event,” he said.
Next year’s event will be held in June as well, and Lowe says as of next week, her and the committee will be preparing for Relay For Life 2012.
For more information on how to volunteer or get involved with future Relay For Life events, visit www.relayforlife.ca/dufferin.



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