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Group of local teenagers excited to support 2014 Osoyoos Relay for Life
Despite their youth, a group of Osoyoos Secondary School teenagers have already been hit hard by cancer and, because of that, they wanted to do something to show they care and make a difference by participating in the Osoyoos Relay for Life this past weekend.
The group of Grade 11 female students managed to raise more than $2,000 for the Canadian Cancer Society and had a great time being part of an event that has raised almost $300,000 in Osoyoos over the past 10 years for cancer research.
“Cancer effects virtually everyone and includes the families of most of the girls on our team,” said Christen Rausch, who helped organize the team called Pirates of the Cureabean that participated in Saturday’s 12-hour Relay for Life in the playing field behind the Sonora Community Centre.
“My grandpa passed away from cancer three years ago … and I wanted to do something to try and honour him and make a difference in our community, so I asked a bunch of girls in our Learning 11 class if they wanted to get involved and I got overwhelming positive response.”
Teammate Katrina Zelko lost her mother to cancer more than two years ago at the tender age of 48 and her father is a cancer survivor, so she didn’t hesitate for a second when Rausch wanted to form a team of OSS students to participate in the Relay for Life.
“It means a lot for me to be here today,” said Zelko. “We’re all young, but almost every girl on our team has been affected by cancer and we knew we wanted to be part of a great cause and help raise some money so hopefully a cure can be found.”
All of the girls wore eye patches or carried plastic swords in keeping with their pirate theme during the relay.
Rausch said she will “definitely be back” with another team at the 2015 Relay for Life and hopes to get maybe one or two more teams from OSS involved next year.
Jim Harrington, the longtime recreation director with the Town of Osoyoos, gave the annual survivor’s speech to kick off proceedings just after noon on Saturday.
Harrington said he was diagnosed with malignant melanoma at age 28 after his girlfriend at the time insisted that he seek treatment for a mole located near one of his ears.
Within weeks, Harrington had been diagnosed and was seeking treatment at the Vancouver Cancer Clinic and has been able to live a long and active life after successful surgery.
The best news is one of the nurses who helped treat him all those years ago was a nurse named June, who became his wife and mother to his children, said Harrington smiling.
Harrington thanked everyone who participated in this year’s Relay for Life for being part of a very special event that truly makes a difference in the lives of those who continue to battle cancer.
“We all have something in common … everyone here has been touched by cancer in some way and we all want to make a difference,” he said.
A total of nine teams and approximately 60 participants took part in this year’s relay, which featured a survivor’s lap after Harrington’s introductory speech and lighting of luminaries to remember all of those who have lost their battle with cancer at dusk.
Event co-ordinator Chantal Reems, who organized the event in Osoyoos as well as the Penticton Relay for Life that will take place this coming weekend, thanked all of the participants for doing their small part to raise awareness and money for cancer research.
There was no official release of how much money was raised in the 2014 Osoyoos Relay for Life by Tuesday’s press deadline.