WCSS’ Relay for Life event is a record breaker

By Jake Davies - West Carleton Online

DUNROBIN – Relay for Life wasn’t on the school’s calendar at the beginning of the year, but West students pulled together and pulled off a record-breaking fundraiser culminating with the Friday, May 25 relay.

West Carleton Secondary School’s Relay for Life organizing committee, once created, faced an uphill battle all the way for this year’s Relay for Life event. And then when the day arrived, 500 participants and the committee had to battle the elements. But when their clothes finally dried up, they had raised a school record $101,000.

“They dealt with a lot of different challenges in a lot of creative ways,” WCSS Vice Principal Darryl Kicul told West Carleton Online.

The school normally holds a Relay for Life event every two years. But at the beginning of the school year, none was scheduled. Teacher Steve Emmell said the teacher volunteers wait for the students to step up before it’s officially on the schedule.

This year, the entire student committee credits Dalia Ibrahim for bringing the six-figure fundraising event to fruition. She was on the committee two years ago as well.

“It wouldn’t have happened without Dalia’s push,” Emmell said.

“It was tons of fun and we raised a lot of money,” Dalia said.

Dalia is also a volunteer at CHEO in the oncology unit. While the committee and Emmell give Dalia credit for having the event, Dalia gives the credit to the school when it comes to the success.

“A big part of it is our school environment,” she said.

When the Cancer Society representative visited WCSS’ Relay, she told the committee two schools had cancelled their events while a few others scaled their events back.

“We had people who were singing and dancing in the rain,” Dalia said. “(Student) Reid Shouldice ran more than a marathon at the Relay. Our school is like that.”

The organizing committee started planning in February following a Cancer Society conference held for schools to provide fundraising advice. The first big challenge was to change the historic evening event with the school’s first daytime Relay.

“It made it a lot more accessible, there was a lot more energy,” teacher Steve Emmell said.

The committee also changed their fundraising focus, earning more donations online than in person for the first time in the event’s history. The school hosts a Bank Day two weeks before the event to collect donations. Early in the process the committee set a goal of $80,000. Two years ago the school raised $95,000, a record at the time. Following their $101,000 event, society representatives told them that was the second highest amount ever raised in this region.

First-time committee member Sam Sharpe said once Dalia approached her about joining the committee, it was an easy decision.

“Relay has kind of become legendary at our school,” Sam said. “When I got here in Grade 9, it was all I heard. ‘You have to do one Relay.’ I think we upheld that legendary status.”


In the back row, from left, are Teacher Robby Perrigo and Teacher Steve Emmell. In the middle row are Nabeeha Ali, Phoebe Gao, Sam Sharpe, Cam Davis, Alex Wilker, Teacher Lindsay Ott and Teacher Elle Minaker. In the front row are Ashna Zaman, Michelle Gandelman, Dalia Ibrahim, Isabelle Poulin and Surya Nareshan.

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