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Relay for Life holds special meaning for local teacher

'I can share my story ... and that is a great way to make this more meaningful to the students,' says teacher who has just returned to work after cancer diagnosis
Maple Ridge teachers Katie Cain (left) and Amy Szerminska get ready for the local Relay for Life event on June 1.

A south-end Barrie school has a new reason to hit the track for fighting cancer in this year’s Relay for Life event.

Maple Ridge Secondary School will be hosting a Relay for Life event on June 1 that will see students and teachers take to the track for 10 hours, looking to raise $20,000 in the annual fundraiser. Money raised will go toward cancer research and to assist those living with cancer.

As the school’s student activity co-ordinator, Katie Cain says she really wanted to find something big the new school could do as a community.

“We want to honour and celebrate anyone who has been impacted by cancer, through a personal diagnosis or if they know and love someone who has been diagnosed,” Cain said. “It's going to be a long day, with ups and downs, but that's a good reminder as to why we’re out here.”

Cain says that during the school day, Maple Ridge students will walk the oval and their progress will be tracked.

“There will also be entertainment, food and games to keep their energy going and generate school spirit,” she added. “We’ve also raised money through some events like a Boston Pizza night and celebrity servers and raised some money at an OFSAA event we hosted.

"It's also on students to raise what they can through garage sales and car washes and that kind of thing," Cain said.

Students who raise $100 will get free food at the June event. Cain also hopes that local businesses will donate food to the school’s special day.

Amy Szerminska, who is a science teacher at Maple Ridge, recently went back to work after her cancer diagnosis last year.

“I just recently returned and I’m very happy to be feeling well and full of energy so I can come and hang out on June 1 for the day and be one of the survivors at the event,” Szerminska said. 

Szerminska was asked if this year’s event holds more personal meaning than the ones she has participated in previously.

“It sure does. I have helped Katie in the past at a Relay for Life day and this year will certainly have more meaning now," she said. "I have a lot more knowledge about what people go through and what the challenges are. I even understand better now how research is funded, so that is something I can help communicate to the students at the event.

"I can share my story at the event and that is a great way to make this more meaningful to the students," Szerminska added.

Szerminska said she has been touched by the support she has received from staff, students and families since receiving her diagnosis.