Tragedy fresh in minds as walkers ascend Signal Hill to support young adult cancer patients

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Tragedy fresh in minds as walkers ascend Signal Hill to support young adult cancer patients

Jolyn Mason stood on top of Signal Hill and could feel her brother beside her in spirit. In years past, he stood there with her.

But Jody Mason, like many former volunteers with Young Adult Cancer Canada, wasn't there on Sunday.

He lost his six-year battle with colon cancer one month ago.

"It's super-fresh," Jolyn said. "I can feel him walking with us. I know he's watching and he's so incredibly proud of everyone who came out today."

Hundreds of participants made the trek up Signal Hill on Sunday in the 18th annual Young Adult Cancer Canada Climb to raise money and support cancer patients and survivors.

As the group posed for a picture near Cabot Tower, one person remarked on the deaths the group has suffered through in recent months.

For Mason, losing her brother made her want to participate in the walk even more.

"We're here to celebrate him, to walk for hope, to keep his legacy alive and to keep all the incredible work YACC does going for people all across Canada."

The organization was founded by Newfoundlander Geoff Eaton after his first battle with cancer. He walked the hill with 200 friends and family members in 2000.

In the early years, the organization did some digging on cancer rates in young adults and found a lack of support programs for the demographic. The organization aimed to fill that void.

Thousands raised for cancer support

Today, the annual climb takes place in various cities across Canada and brings together teams of participants who each raise funds.

As of Sunday afternoon, this year's walks had raised close to $25,000 across Canada, with $18,510 raised in St. John's.

The teams are a mix of people affected by cancer and companies looking to help out the community.

Rob Roauh, branch manager of RBC in Mount Pearl, huffed and puffed his way to the top of the hill after making a $5,000 donation to the cause.

"You know what, there's a good burn going on," he laughed as he reached the top. "But it's brilliant. Every burn I'm feeling right now is worth it."

Mason's team was one of the top fundraisers for the event, finishing with just under $4,000. On the chest of their shirts was a superhero's crest with the letter J in bold font.

"We formed a team called the Justice League," Mason explained. "Because we called Jody our Superman."