Travis Giddings was only four when his father Alfred succumbed to cancer in 1993.
He does have memories of visiting his father in the hospital and attending his funeral, but admits he was too young at the time to understand the implications of what happened to his father, or to have detailed memories.
“I was a little too young to understand how drastic it was,” Travis said.
“I’m sure it had more of an impact on my mother and my older sisters, Kristie and Roxane, who were seven and nine at the time.”
Nonetheless, Travis, 24, has made it a point to take part in every Relay for Life in Smithers, since its inception in 2003.
“For as long as I can remember I’ve participated in Relay for Life,” Travis said.
“It’s the least I can do, just to show my support.
“I know a lot of people who have been touched by cancer.”
An avid sports enthusiast, Giddings does remember with fondness the passion his father had for fishing, something he promised to share with Travis when he turned seven.
It would never be.
Today, like his father, Travis is an avid fisherman, in addition to biking and hiking.
Although he never had the opportunity to fish with his father, his father is with him every time he dips his line.
“I use a lot of his fishing gear,” Travis said.
Spending time fishing, Travis said, also offers him occasion to think about his father and to enjoy nature.
Some of those memories, although not very detailed, are from when Alfred, who owned Al’s Custom Autobody, would come home from work, whether it was at lunchtime or at the end of the day and spend time playing with Travis in the living room, a little roughhousing or with the toys already laid out on the floor.
Participating in Relay for Life, Travis said, is another way for him to honour the memory of his father and his grandmother who died from cancer in 2010 as well as others in the community.
“It’s comforting,” he said.
Part of the comfort, Travis said, is meeting with family and friends, which makes the Relay for Life a social event, a time to catchup with family and friends, while at the same time paying his respects to other families that have been touched by cancer.
In addition to the support and social aspect of Relay for Life, Travis said the lighting of the luminaries is also a special moment of the Relay for Life.
“It’s something I really look forward to and doing the Memory Lap,” he said.
“To see the many other names out there, to pay your respects to them and their families.”
As for the future, Travis said he sees himself participating in the Relay for Life for many years to come and hopes other Smithereens will take part.
“It’s a really good experience,” Travis said.
“It’s a good cause and it helps you realize how many people have been touched by cancer.”
The Smithers Relay for Life runs June 8, from 1 p.m. – 1 a.m. For information contact firstname.lastname@example.org.