WCSS Relay for Life $100,000 fundraiser

By Jake Davies - West Carleton Online

DUNROBIN – A little later this week (May 26) the entire West Carleton Secondary School (WCSS) student population will celebrate an incredible feat, raising more than $90,000 for the Canadian Cancer Society with a shot at the school record still within sight.

Relay for Life is a big deal at WCSS and every two years a committee is struck with the goal of raising big bucks for cancer research.

This year has almost been like starting from scratch for WCSS. Two years ago the fundraiser was scrapped as WCSS and the rest of the world were in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Because of that, this year’s committee had no members with experience organizing the huge undertaking. Before that, WCSS held a Relay for Life fundraiser every two years since 2004 raising a staggering $474,000 for the Canadian Cancer Society.

This year’s committee, despite a lack of experience, set a lofty goal of $50,000 aiming to break the half-a-million raised mark. Well, they crushed that goal.

West Carleton Online sat down with the WCSS Relay for Life committee on Wednesday, May 17 and by then, the school population had already raised more than $102,000, and a chance to break the 2018 record of $104,000 (we’ll know if they did it Friday).

The 10-person committee is made up of students from Grade 10 to Grade 12, all with a desire to defeat cancer. It formed in late January, and by February was meeting weekly. Starting last week, those meetings became daily.

The committee raised the money by soliciting donations, hosting special events at the school and getting help from the school’s greater community.

“A lot of people in the community have taken it upon themselves, going door-to-door, hosting bake sales,” committee member Paige Tolmie said.

There are 454 student participants and 20 teacher participants, and with the funds raised so far, the math equals each participant raising about $200.

“We did create a lot of incentives and a lot of local businesses have helped,” Hamza Arrouch said.

Ariana Vaezi says this year’s fundraisers have worked hard to continue to make the 2023 edition a success.

“I think everyone is super excited to get it back going again,” she said. “It’s something new for a lot of students who didn’t experience it before because of COVID.”

And on May 26 the entire school will celebrate with the actual Relay for Life. The day kicks off with the Survivors’ Walk featuring cancer survivors and dignitaries. Retired WCSS teacher and cancer survivor Michelle Pert will be the keynote speaker.

Students will continue to take laps on the school’s track with a day full of other activities and ceremonies planned.

“It’s a party with a purpose,” Sasha Bailey said. “Lots of activities, fun and food.”

While it is a lot of work for the student-committee, the payoff is what’s important.

“Cancer is something that affects everyone,” Rebecca said. “Everyone has someone they love, they know, or themselves touched by cancer.”

“My family has been touched by cancer so often, I’ve been to a lot of Relay for Live events and it’s a great feeling,” Taelyn Lecuyer said.

While the subject matter is serious, there has to be fun involved to engage the students.

“I spoke to some graduate students who told me it was the best time and event of the year,” Janna Feifel said.

“we’re all really excited,” Rebecca said. “There’s some nerves. It’s a big event to pull off.”

The Relay for Life event will run from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday, May 26 at the high school (3088 Dunrobin Rd.).

If you are interested in making a donation, you can do so here.

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