Relay For Life is an inspiring community event that gives everyone a chance to celebrate cancer survivors and caregivers; remember loved ones lost to cancer; and fight back by raising awareness and funds to support the work of the Cancer Society. Open to people of all ages and fitness levels, it was a festive family-friendly environment with heaps of activities and entertainment. After a moving opening ceremony, which saw local cancer survivors and caregivers leading the first lap of the event, other teams took to the track, with Ray White Nelson showing their support for the walkers by selling hot cups of tea throughout the night to fundraise at this 24 hour event. Nine staff members were rostered on throughout the night with Tonia Allan and Susa Guhl key organisers – many of the team also had open homes to run on the Sunday afternoon. When asked why they do it year after year Tonia, although has survived cancer herself, said “its more about being there for the community and standing by them as a support network as they walked the hard yards.” – The Ray White Nelson team aren’t quite sure how much they raised with their tea stall (as they handed all the takings plus original float over to the Cancer Society), but if tea bags are anything to go by Tonia estimates they sold well over 300 cups.
Relay For Life has now grown into a global movement since its inception in America in 1985 with over four million people this year expected to take part in over 6,000 Relay For Life events worldwide. New Zealand is one of 20 countries to take part in the annual Relay for Life, the world’s largest cancer awareness and fundraising event. The Cancer Society’s first New Zealand Relay For Life was held in Palmerston North in 2001. It was a great success with other communities around the country soon following. Year after year, people of all ages and backgrounds take part in Relay For Life. Teams come from local businesses, clubs, families/whānau, friends, hospitals, marae, schools, churches and service organisations. Interestingly the 2014 Relay for Life NZ series kicked off (for the second year running) with a “Relay on Ice’ held at New Zealand’s Scott Base in Antarctica earlier in February. The Nelson team are planning to help out each year at this worthy event.