My name is Domi and I’m very proud to be a Relay For Life volunteer from Belgium!
On February 13th, we had our first national Summit and this was a very special moment because we are celebrating our 5th anniversary of Relay For Life in Belgium! (Here it’s called Levensloop / Relais Pour La Vie)
This year we will have 28 Relay For Life events all over Belgium and the intention is to have 50 relays by 2020!
Upon arrival we were guided to the foyer where we could have a little breakfast (mini croissants with beverages). After a little while we were able to go to the room where the Summit was taking place. Every committee had their own table. At each table there was a bag with our name on it. In the bag there were different gadgets in it such as a pen, notebooks, personalized business cards, a chocolate bar (Belgium is THE country of chocolate after all) and, especially for our 5th anniversary, a very special sweater for each one of us! (when we had to subscribe for the Summit they asked us for our sizes so now we knew why)
When everyone got to their seats it was time to kick-off the Summit! After Sarah welcomed us all, they showed a presentation with all the video’s each committee made from their relay last year. After the video finished they asked everyone who was part of the 3 first Relays, back in 2011, to stand up so that everyone could see who’s been a part since the very beginning!
I’m honored to say that I was one of the few standing up!
The first act of the day began with Fried Ringoot. (He’s a comedian, who’s been a survivor since 2005. He’s been touring our country with his own theater shows where he tells his own story.)
After his act we got our first testimony of the day, from a survivor Inès. She told her story as well as her son’s as they are both survivors.
Then it was time for our first workshop of the day: “Bring the people”. This was all about how to attract people to join your committee and to have people join your relay as a team, fighter, volunteer or sponsor.
After this workshop we got an interview with 3 testimonials about the services that Stichting Tegen Kanker (Belgian Cancer Foundation) provides: 1 person who quit smoking through Tabacstop, 1 person who’s using Rekanto (a program that helps survivors after their treatment to get back in movement through different kinds of activities such as Nordic walking, Yoga, Aquagym) and lastly we got a testimonial from one of the people who’s working for the Cancer Info helpline.
After Lunch we got our 2nd workshop: “Build the fun”. Here we had to write down our own experiences from our own Relay last year, both the positive as well as the negative sides.
All of a sudden it got dark after the 2nd workshop and a celebration song was playing when they brought in a huge birthday cake with fireworks on top!
While the caterer was preparing the cake for everyone to enjoy, all the survivors got on stage with a very special message to thank us for all the work we’ve done these past 5 years and how much going to these relays means for them.
Then it was finally time to go have a delicious piece of that cake in the foyer! (chocolate mousse)
After the break the final workshop of the day started “Fund the mission”. Here we learned about why exactly we are organizing these relays and how we can fund it. After this we got a testimonial from the medical director for the Foundation Against Cancer talking about the statistics of cancer and how the medical world has improved finding cures against cancer.
But we’re not quite there yet, not by a long shot! So we need to keep relaying so we can some day have a world that’s completely cancer-free!
One of the final parts of the day, before the dinner party started, was of course the luminary ceremony. Here we first got Christel, one of the survivors from one of the French committees who performed her song “New Life”. After her song we got another performance from Kim Poelmans and her niece followed by a girl who danced ballet while Coldplay’s “ A sky full of stars” was playing.
Then it was time for the General Director of Stichting tegen Kanker, Luc Van Haute, to get on stage to give his speech. When he finished and wanted to get off stage, he was quickly stopped by Pascal & Cindy (2 people who organized the Summit) with a surprise for him: they made stickers for each one of us that said: #IhuggedLucVanHaute so everyone who wanted was able to get on stage to give him a hug to thank him for being the founder of Relay for Life in Belgium and guiding a team of staff and volunteers in the development of Relay Belgium. Everyone who did got a sticker taped on their chest as a proof!
All of a sudden we heard percussion drums from the back of the room and 3 men from Drum Cafe came walking into the room with their djembe’s giving an amazing performance! Before we knew it all the people from the foundation were handing everyone a djembe for the session we were about to have! This lasted for a half hour where we learned to play the djembe and it was really amazing.
After the djembe session it was time for our dinner so while the caterer prepared the buffet and the tables, we went back to the foyer where we each got a glass of champagne to enjoy while waiting.
After dinner the party started with a Wobble session (that they taught us during the day saying that we ALL HAD to perform later that night) followed by a karaoke contest before a DJ played the rest of the night.
It was a really instructive day where we learned a lot from the different workshops and where we all had a lot of fun getting to know all of the other committees from Belgium, celebrating this special anniversary all together.
Lots of greetings from across the pond!
Relayer for Levensloop Belgium