Relay for Life extends hours for 2012

Changes are coming to one of the Columbia Valley's biggest annual cancer fundraisers.

Changes are coming to one of the Columbia Valley’s biggest annual cancer fundraisers.

While the Canadian Cancer Society’s Relay for Life has in past been a mainly overnight event, organizer Sheila Tutty says she’s been getting steady requests for a daytime version of the fundraiser for several years.

“Anybody with young kids or elderly people, it’s too hard over night,” says Tutty. “I think we could have more participation if we had a daytime event.”

The relay’s organizing committee looked into holding a daylight-only event, but discovered making the change would require them to stage an entirely independent event that couldn’t use the Cancer Society’s promotional materials or even be referred to as a Relay for Life.

While the B.C. and Yukon arm of the organization is studying the possibility of holding daytime relays, it won’t do so until 2012 and 2013.

So, while the Columbia Valley organizers wait, they’ve come up with a compromise — a longer event that allows for afternoon and overnight participation.

“Right now we start from 6 p.m. and go to 6 a.m,” explains Tutty. “What we’re going to do is start at 2 or 3 in the afternoon, and that will give us up until 11 p.m. when we do the Luminaries Ceremony. And then any families or older people or people who aren’t healthy can participate until that time.”

The overnight portion of the relay will also get an overhaul this year. Typically, it’s been quiet at the relay after dark, with little for participants to do other than walk the course. To spice things up, students from David Thompson Secondary School’s leadership club have been tapped to run games and contests after dark

Teams of underage participants — such as high school students — will also be required to have an adult with them throughout the night this year, another first.

Tutty says she’s hoping the changes will increase participation.

“Anyone who says ‘I can’t do the relay because I can’t stay up all night,’ now they’ve got from, 2 to 10 p.m. That’s eight hours they can put a team in and participate,” she says.

Next year’s relay runs June 16, 2012.