By Lucy Chan

I became a volunteer with the Canadian Cancer Society in 1999 and since then, I’ve taken on a number of different roles from Teams Chair and Event Chair to more recently a member of RAT (not the cheese-loving kind, but the Relay Advisory Team). Being a leadership volunteer combines two of my greatest passions: helping with the fight against cancer and honing my leadership skills (or what some people call ‘bossiness’).

Lucy at summit

Despite balancing family, work and volunteering, through the years I have always participated in Relay For Life with my team. I think this gives me a great opportunity to experience the magic of Relay, while helping to create a Relay that is bigger and better each year.

I can’t deny the special perks – Relay swag (if Relay shirts were currency I’d be a rich woman), knowing how to choose the best port-a-potty, choosing the optimum time to visit the Food Station to ensure short lines. More importantly, along the way, I’ve met some pretty phenomenal people who have enriched my life: dedicated volunteers who are now friends, inspirational cancer survivors who share so much hope, supportive caregivers and of course, the amazing staff.

There are so many worthwhile causes to support, but there’s something to be said for working alongside staff and volunteers who are not only committed to their roles, but also who are passionate about the cause. With a disease that can cause so much grief, who wouldn’t want to surround themselves with so much good energy?

With many things in life, knowing the internal, behind the scenes process diminishes the magic of the experience. The Wizard of Oz wasn’t nearly as impressive after Toto pulled the curtain back. But, for me, with Relay, being a part of the process actually enhances the experience.

It’s true, sometimes I may be worrying about logistical details such as whether the projector is placed exactly where it should be or the fact that we only have one lighter for hundreds of luminaries. But it is incredibly fulfilling knowing I have played a part in ensuring the Relay experience is meaningful for participants and survivors. Sometimes I wonder if I’m truly giving back, when I gain so much from my volunteer experiences.

So next year when you’re at Relay, pay no attention to the woman behind the projector, with the unmatched socks and knots in her hair. Just experience the magic.