What has become known as the biggest 24-hour Relay for Life event in Canada, Prince George’s 2020 walk to support those with cancer has been cancelled.
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced organizers to make the decision today (March 27) in considering the B.C. government’s current ban on gatherings of more than 50 people and maintaining social distancing to combat the spread of the virus.
As of yesterday (March 26), there are 11 positive cases in Northern Health, five of which have fully recovered, and 725 across B.C.
“We are beyond devastated,” says Aimee Cassie, Northern BC Community Manager for the Canadian Cancer Society and Coordinator of Relay for Life Prince George.
“We understand how critically important it is to contain COVID-19, because there is an increased risk for more severe outcomes for Canadians aged 65 and over, with compromised immune systems or with underlying medical conditions.”
In 2019, more than $325,000 was raised by 675 participants, 20 of which committed to walking the full 24 hours in recognizing the battle several local residents go through on a daily basis when diagnosed with cancer.
Cassie says the Canadian Cancer Society is hoping to still raise some much-needed funds despite the cancelation, including a virtual development to connect to the Prince George community.
“This does not mean we don’t still need your support now more than ever or that our work is done,” she said.
“Cancer is considered an underlying medical condition and some cancer treatments, such as surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, can compromise the immune system, making it harder to fight infections. It goes without saying the care and well-being of our supporters is our highest priority. We need to protect the most vulnerable and ensure that our healthcare system is functioning well for people with cancer and for everyone who needs help.”
This is especially a call for younger generations to step up to the challenge as social media was a format organizers had hoped to use in bringing the 28th annual event to the digital age.