Fighting back against cancer

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Kentville Relay for Life raises $113,000

By Amanda Jess

The Kings County Advertiser


Peggy Vanhattem had reason to celebrate at the Kentville Relay for Life June 22.

Vanhattem could barely keep her feet still as she talked about her team, the Hawaiian Cuties, and why she relays.

“It’s raising money for a good cause,” she said, while listing her many reasons.

This relay marked the 10-year anniversary of her survival from breast cancer, but that’s only one reason she relays – she also wants to support the Lodge That Gives.

The Lodge That Gives is a place for those undergoing cancer treatment in Halifax to stay and support each other. Vanhattem met four friends there while she was battling the disease and they’re still friends to this day. They still meet once a month to support one another in how far they’ve come.

This isn’t Vanhattem’s first relay. She started in Middleton in 2004.

“It inspired me to keep going,” she said.

Since then, she’s walked all six in Kentville.

 “I’ll relay forever,” she said, adding that her team raised $3,358 for cancer research.

Over 800 people walked together against cancer at the relay, raising $113,000 for cancer research by 8 p.m. They didn’t quite reach their goal of $137,000, but the donations weren’t over yet. Luminary sales continued until 10 p.m. and online donations still haven’t closed.

Chair Pamela Davison and Kristin Matheson, Valley District coordinator, remained hopeful that they would eventually meet their goal. They held the same goal last year, and fell short with $126 thousand raised. However, they remain positive.

“It’s growing every year,” she said.

Money aside, the event was a huge success.

“Everyone’s having a good time,” Davison said.

The night didn’t involve just walking around Memorial Park in Kentville, either. The event included a Zumba class, live music, karaoke, massages and a frozen t-shirt contest.

The Blood, Sweat and Cheer group were easy to spot as it grew darker with their cheerfulness and neon clothing. Together, the group of co-workers, friends and family raised $2,224.

Adriana Merks was one of the colourful members. She relays in memory of her deceased grandfather that she lost a few years ago. They chose to go with their flashy theme in order to keep the event fun and cheerful.

“Neon is always fun,” Merks said.

The Medical Maniacs, dressed like Dr. Seuss characters, may have looked silly, but they attended the Relay for Life for a serious reason. Team captain Lesley Austin-Smith and the rest of her teammates are part of the medical unit at Valley Regional Hospital. They relay because they see people with cancer everyday.

“We experience the experience with them.”

If you missed the chance to help out, donations will still be taken online at for a short time. 

Organizations: Kentville Relay for Life, Valley Regional Hospital

Geographic location: Kentville, Halifax, Middleton Memorial Park

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