Winnipeg Firefighters to join hundreds as they celebrate, remember and fight back against cancer at Winnipeg Relay For Life

23 May 2013

Winnipeg, Manitoba -

They are the people who run into fires when others run away but by protecting Winnipeggers, firefighters put themselves at greater risk of cancer.

On Friday, more than 1,000 Winnipeggers will gather at Shaw Park for the 11th Annual Relay For Life to celebrate, remember and fight back against cancer.  For the first time, the event will also recognize firefighters who are cancer survivors and 47 who have lost their lives to work-related cancer.

Research shows that firefighters are significantly more likely to develop eight different types of cancer because the job they do puts them in contact with cancer-causing carcinogens.  Manitoba firefighters led the country bringing awareness to work-related cancer risk, a charge led by United Fire Fighters of Winnipeg President Alex Forest.

“Manitobans recognize the bravery of the men and women who serve our communities,” said Forest, “but some of these individuals – and their families – pay the ultimate sacrifice because of cancer.

“We are honoured to Relay with so many Winnipeggers against cancer, celebrating the progress against this disease and to remember and honour those lost.”

The 12-hour Relay celebrates an estimated 30,000 Manitobans currently on a cancer journey and those who are no longer with us.  Winnipeg is one of 11 Manitoba communities hosting Relay events this summer.  They also take place in Steinbach, Brandon, Thompson, Dauphin, Lac du Bonnet, Churchill, Souris, Swan River, Gimli, and Flin Flon.

“While every Relay provides inspiration and hope, this year’s will hold special meaning as it marks the 75th Anniversary of the Canadian Cancer Society,” said Winnipeg Relay co-chair Dan Duka.  For 75 years, Canadians have trusted the Cancer Society to lead the fight against ALL cancers. In that time, it has invested $1.2 billion in cancer-fighting research and lives are being saved as a result. In the 1930s, only about 25% of Canadian cancer patients survived more than five years. Today, the survival rate is more than 60%.

“We will gather to celebrate the progress that we’ve made against all 200-plus cancers,’’ Duka said. “I promise you, with this powerful atmosphere, it will be a night you’ll never forget.”

Money raised through Relay For Life funds the most promising cancer research, providing programs and services that support Manitobans living with cancer as well as efforts to bring about change in the health care system to reduce the incidence of cancer and improve support for cancer patients.

Ryan Veldkamp will Relay as part of a team for the first time, joining more than 200 other cancer survivors walking the first “Victory Lap.” Nearly five years ago he was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL). Now the 15-year-old is resolved to make a difference.

“We Relay to show people that while cancer is a tough fight, we get through it as a family,’’ Ryan’s mother Karla said. “We Relay to show people that you can beat cancer. It’s tough but we’re survivors and Ryan will be here for a long time.”

On Friday, May 24, 2013 at Shaw Park, the United Fire Fighters of Winnipeg will join hundreds of other cancer survivors, caregivers and participants in the Canadian Cancer Society’s Winnipeg Relay For Life.  The opening ceremony is at the Main Stage at 6:30 p.m. followed by the first lap walked by over 200 survivors at 7:00pm.   The special Fire Fighter lap will take place at 8:30pm.  Interviews can be arranged on site with Alex Frost, Carla and Ryan Veldkamp, or Canadian Cancer Society Staff.

About the Canadian Cancer Society

For 75 years the Canadian Cancer Society has been with Canadians in the fight for life. We have been relentless in our commitment to prevent cancer, fund research and support Canadians touched by cancer. From this foundation, we will work with Canadians to change cancer forever so fewer Canadians are diagnosed with the disease and more survive. When you want to know more about cancer, visit our website at or call our toll-free bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1-888-939-3333.

For more information, please contact:

Jason Permanand

Communications Manager

Canadian Cancer Society


Phone: 204-990-4310