The Survivors’ Lap is a key moment at the annual Relay For Life fundraiser at McLeod Athletic Park. Last year’s event raised $147,000 for the Canadian Cancer Society. Langley Times file photo

Langley Relay for Life organizer welcomes all to fundraiser

Jenn Schroeder and strong team of volunteers putting together Friday’s event at McLeod Athletic Park

Cancer has stolen so much from Jenn Schroeder.

It took both of her parents — Schroeder’s dad passed away in 2005 and her mom in 2009 from cancer.

Schroeder’s brother, Jason Polnau, was diagnosed with oral cancer in 2002, and is now a 15 year cancer survivor.

And, over the years, Schroeder noted that she has had friends and extended family “touched by this horrible disease.”

Her family and friends are why Schroeder has devoted herself to the cancer fight. She is both the organizer of the Langley Relay For Life event happening this Friday night, June 9, at McLeod Athletic Park, as well as the annual giving coordinator with the Canadian Cancer Society, BC and Yukon Division.

“I relay for them and everyone else that has been touched by cancer,” Schroeder said, adding that Friday’s relay is a volunteer run event “with me supporting them.”

“We have such amazing committee volunteers that do so much in the background to make this event run smoothly and continuously be successful,” Schroeder said.

This year’s relay gets underway with opening ceremonies at 6 p.m., followed by the Survivors’ Victory Lap involving cancer survivors at 6:30 p.m. (as a side note, Schroeder’s brother comes out for the survivors’ lap every year).

The Luminary Ceremony takes place at 10 p.m. with closing ceremonies planned for 11:30 p.m.

On the eve of the annual fundraiser in support of the Canadian Cancer Society, the Times caught up with Schroeder to chat about the event, and why she has taken a leadership role in the fundraiser.

How long have you been involved with Relay for Life?

I started as a ‘day of’ volunteer with the Langley Relay For Life in 2010 and then started on the committee for a few years till I started as a staff partner in 2013. Not only have I been involved with the ‘the-behind-scenes,’ I have also had my own family/friend team with the Langley relay for the past four years.

Is there still room to register as a team this year and can you donate on site or online if you aren’t part of a team?

There is always time to register. Anyone can come day of and register, we will always find a spot for everyone!

If you’re not registered as a participant or survivor that’s okay, as you can still donate online at relayforlife.ca/langley or come down to the event and make a donation.

Will be there any food onsite?

We always have food onsite. For all our survivors, the Joseph Richards Group Townhall Pub is supplying some amazing food for them as well as Saginaw Bakery are bringing there famous delicious daffodil doughnuts.

We also have two food trucks on site, Bread & Cheese and Poutinerie. JD Farms Specialty Turkey is providing turkey chili for everyone which we will be serving at 11 o’clock.

Can members of the public drop by?

Yes, we always welcome people to come down and enjoy in our festivities. We welcome all cancer survivors to come down for our opening ceremonies and join in the Survivors’ Victory Lap, as well as the reception afterwards.

What is the fundraising goal?

This year we are hoping to get to $140,000. This is a big goal but the community has been so supportive of the Relay For Life and the Canadian Cancer Society. We have amazing teams, participants, donors and sponsors that have been working really hard on the fundraising goal.

For anyone who hasn’t been to a Relay For Life, what is the vibe/atmosphere like?

It’s a celebration! Everyone there is very excited as they have all worked hard to fundraise so much. The relay is like the party where we get to have fun and celebrate what everyone has achieved. We do have two major pillars within relay: our celebrate ceremony where the survivors take to the first lap as we cheer them on from the sidelines. Our remember ceremony happens once the sun has set.

Throughout the event participants and/or people decorate a luminary bag in memory or honour of someone who has or is going through cancer. This is a more somber time as we light each bag and have a moment of silence. We also have the White Spot Pipe Band do a lap together as we walk behind remembering all our loved ones.

How excited are you about the relay?

I am always excited about relay. It’s amazing to see the community come together and support each other in such a unique way.

How emotional is the day?

Everyone has a story, and with their stories they experience different emotions. Relay is a chance to come together, celebrate those who have won the fight and remember those we have lost.