Survivors and their carers started Relay for Life by walking the first lap.
Survivors and their carers started Relay for Life by walking the first lap. Robyn Esser

Walking for a cure

RELAY for Life participants may be weary and sore after the weekend but they can be happy in the knowledge they were taking steps in the right direction to find a cure for cancer.

Relay for Life was held at Emerald Showgrounds with the 18-hour walk starting at 3pm on Saturday and finishing at 9am the following morning.

Relay for Life chairman Julie Sandenan said it was very successful as the event had raised $43,000 with more money still coming in.

“There were 26 teams all up, five more than last year and more than what we raised from 2010,” Julie said.

“It is an incredible result considering the floods at the start of the year.

“I was happy with whatever but the result is fantastic.”

The day started with an afternoon tea for cancer survivors followed by the opening ceremony where Julie paid tribute to Ian Baldwin, a cancer survivor who tragically died in an ultralight plane crash last week. One minute’s silence was held to mark his passing.

“He was one of our survivors, he was missed here this year,” she said.

“Sue and Ian Johnson, the faces of the 2011 Relay for Life, cut the ribbon and survivors and carers did the first lap and everyone joined in after that.”

The teams were bright and colourful this year, all dressed up in costumes including pirates, pyjamas, cars, hippies, country and a range of 1950s-themed costumes.

“There was a whole different range of costumes and everyone looked great,” Julie said.

The only stop during the Relay was for the candlelight ceremony as miners did a lap to the song Amazing Grace played by bagpipes.

“It was an awesome sight, very moving,” Julie said. “Candles were lit to honour those who have died and for those still fighting disease.

“Messages of hope and messages of remembrance were written on the candle bags.”

There was a big sigh of relief on Sunday morning as all teams came together again for the last lap before celebrating the finish.

“It was a big sigh of relief to go home to bed, it was a really good relay, everyone was happy,” Julie said, adding that there would have been more than a few people with sore feet.

A highlight for Julie was watching a few of the high school participants join in with the line dancers and try to keep in step with them.

“That’s what Relay is all about - no matter the age all are there for one common cause to fight cancer and find a cure,” she said.

“Seeing so many happy people and the support of the community, I was overwhelmed.

“Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. It was amazing.”

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