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Celebrating, remembering and supporting

When Jenny Thistle came to UNB and discovered that the university didn’t have its own Relay for Life fundraiser, she decided to start one up to honour her mom who died of cancer.

“When I was 15 my mom got diagnosed with cancer, and she passed away in June of my Grade 12 year,” Thistle said. “So when I came to UNB and I realized that there wasn’t a Relay for Life here at school, I went down to the Canadian Cancer Society office and took it upon myself to get one started. It grew from there.”

Relay for Life is a 12-hour fundraising event for the Canadian Cancer Society. Participants form teams and take turns walking around a track for a 12-hour period. It raises money in support of cancer research, cancer patients and their families.

This year will mark the second year for the fundraiser to be held at UNB and Thistle is returning as chair of the event’s committee.

It will be held Jan. 18 from noon until midnight at the Currie Center.

Normally Relay for Life is an all-night event that is meant to simulate a cancer patient’s journey through the different stages of their diagnosis from dark to dawn. This year it was decided that a time change would be easier on students.

“We thought if we had it just during the day that we’d get more participation from the student body,” Thistle said.

“We found that through the night it was hard because where we’re students and everyone has lots of work to do. We found that Saturday was taken up planning, getting ready and going to the event and then Sunday morning when you got home everybody went to bed for the full day, and it’s hard to lose two days.”

The event was held for the first time at UNB last January and Thistle says they raised approximately $32,000.

This year they want to finish with similar results and have more than 25 teams sign up.

“We would like to surpass our goal of number of teams from last year, which is really important for us because we’re such a young relay. So if we can get teams coming back it makes it also a tradition where people are really looking forward to it,” said Taylor Coady, the event’s promotions co-chair.

These goals are kept in check by the most important outcome of the event: to celebrate the survivors, to honour and remember those who have been taken by cancer and to support all who are currently battling it.

“Everyone has been in this position, everyone has known someone with cancer and so I think that they’re not just helping those with cancer but they’re helping everyone as well,” Thistle said.

“Like me, [although] maybe not as directly, every single person has been affected by cancer in some way. So it’s definitely a cause that most people can relate to.”

Anyone who would like to participate can sign up through UNB’s Relay for Life Facebook page at

Registration will be open until the event starts on Jan. 18.

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