Paddy’s Garden in Carbonear was alive with the sounds of laughter, music and chatter during the afternoon of the 10th annual Relay for Life that took place Saturday, Sept. 7.
© Submitted photo
The Teens of Hope group at the Relay for Life event consisted of 47 members who raised a combined total of more than $11,400.
Dozens of participants of all ages from Conception Bay North gathered under white tents to begin a twelve-hour relay on the track at the Carbonear Recreation Complex to raise money for the Canadian Cancer Society.
According to the society’s website, each team must have one person walking along the track at all times during the event while the remainder are entertained with music and games.
Officials with the Canadian Cancer Society confirm the total raised was on par with last year’s total of $80,000.
Teens of Hope
In 2009 when Matthew Sheppard of Spaniard’s Bay was 14 years old, he organized a team of 11 teenagers to participate in the relay. They called themselves the “Teen Team.”
The team was created only three weeks before the event, but they still managed to collect some $900 for the organization.
They eventually changed their name to “Teens of Hope,” which Sheppard said came from the “popular sparkles of hope bracelets” that were released in 2010.
“The second year we had 20 members and raised around $4,300,” Sheppard told The Compass in a phone interview. “Then last year we doubled to 40 members and raised a little over $9,200.”
In four years the team has quadrupled in size. It now has 47 members.
For the past three years the team has received acknowledgment for their fundraising efforts, and for good reason — this year’s total surpassed $11,400.
“We set a team goal this year for $10,000 because at last year’s relay the committee asked us to try for it for their 10th local Relay for Life anniversary,” Sheppard announced.
Members of the team are Janelle Bishop, Emily Crummey, Sarah Dawe, Douglas Akerman, Desiree Bowering, Danielle Bowering, Kelsey Gillingham, Jenna Pham, Kelsey Bradbury, Mitchell Dobbin, Andrew Mercer, Lucas Roberts, Hannah Kearly, Courtney McDonald, Rebecca French, Holly Bartlett, Robyn Pike, Emily Mercer, Brianna Neil, Katie Power, Nicole Smith, Matthew Sheppard, Emily J Peddle, Brianne Fowler, Hilary Paul, Meagan Tucker, Sabrina Neil, Gavin Mercer, Alexandria Burton, Kayla Petten, Victoria Smith, Brady Barrett, Emily D Peddle, Alexandra Wells, Danielle St. Croix, Sabrina Mercer, Jessie Fewer, Emily Penney, Toni Jerrett, Jared Petten, Amy Barrett, Tiffany Janes, Caroline Reid, Kristen Adams, Shannon Mahoney, Emily Vokey and Victoria Bishop.
Everyone has a story
Cancer is a disease that almost everyone has a connection to, one way or another.
Everyone who is affected, either personally or individually, has a story.
Sheppard has his own story that keeps him motivated to keep his team going.
“I started the team four years ago because I lost my mother (Wanda Sheppard) who was my best friend to Hodgkin’s Lymphoma,” he explained. “She suffered through a nine-and-a-half year battle and she is most definitely my greatest hero.”
Sheppard, who is in his first year at Memorial University, has seen his grandfather, Gordon Sheppard, fight a battle with cancer as well.
His grandfather beat his fight with prostate cancer, but he still looks at him as a reason to find a cure. He said he also completes the relay for his teacher, great-grandfather, great-aunts and family friends.
Members of the “Teens of Hope” team had their own inspiration and announced each one on their T-shirts. Grandmother, sister, uncle, cousin and even friend and neighbour were printed on the back to remember the cancer struggles these loved ones encountered and to remind them of why they are participating. Some had four or more names on their shirts.
Each shirt was a different colour to represent the different coloured cancer awareness ribbons.
Sheppard’s was lime green for lymphoma.
The team participated for a cure and hoped their contributions would help make that a reality some day.
“My wish is that eventually no little boy or girl needs to grow up without their mom or dad, or anyone else because of cancer,” Sheppard said. “My mother missed out on a lot of important things in my life because of cancer.”
Teena is a survivor
Besides the Teens of Hope team, the Canadian Cancer Society acknowledged two other individuals for their efforts.
Debbie Penney from CeeBees Bingo raised over $3,000, earning her the top individual fundraiser award. She received the same award last year with $2,600.
Another fundraiser that received special acknowledgement from the society was Teena Swain, a member of the White Scorpion Tattoos team from Carbonear.
She helped raise over $2,000 with the team while battling melanoma.
In a message written to the society, the scorpion’s team says Teena has recently undergone 10 sessions of radiation on her brain due to a tumour and had two brain surgeries in the past year.
“Last year our team was 12 members with six survivors,” it read. “This year was 35 members with six survivors.”
“Teena and other survivors on our team are the reason we need to be doing the relay so it will become a victory walk one day instead of a walk of hope.”
The team has raised over $12,000 in the past two years.