The Western Star - - FRONT PAGE - Alexia Austin Alexia.Austin@west­ern­

THE glow of lanterns lit up the dark dur­ing the Re­lay for Life can­dle­light cer­e­mony in Roma on Satur­day, in a vis­ually spec­tac­u­lar dis­play of sol­i­dar­ity.

LIKE clock­work, Satur­day’s stormy skies cleared just in time to wel­come a num­ber of beachy guests to Cities’ Oval, pre­par­ing to walk through the night for a wor­thy cause.

The an­nual Re­lay for Life is a fundrais­ing event where team mem­bers take turns walk­ing around a track for an 18-hour pe­riod.

Each team is re­quired to have a mem­ber on the track at all times to sig­nify that cancer never sleeps.

Teams came dressed for the beach theme, and set up a num­ber of camps around the oval in prepa­ra­tion for the evening.

The Li­ons and Ro­tary club mem­bers served de­li­cious hot food to par­tic­i­pants.

The event be­gan with a sur­vivor and car­ers walk, cel­e­brat­ing those that had over­come ad­ver­sity.

As the sun set on what had been a glo­ri­ous day, the par­tic­i­pants gath­ered for the can­dle­light cer­e­mony, to hon­our those who had lost their lives and oth­ers who were still bat­tling the dis­ease.

Fam­i­lies and friends shared matches to light their hope lanterns, in­scribed with the names of loved ones who had bat­tled cancer, in a sym­bolic dis­play of unit­ing to con­quer the dark.

Dur­ing the cer­e­mony, a num­ber of par­tic­i­pants spoke on how the dis­ease had shaped their lives, with Roma’s face of Re­lay for Life Mar­guerite Cud­dihy, speak­ing on how hope lit up the dark­est of days.

“My brush with cancer woke me up. Be­fore I be­lieved I was av­er­age and that only av­er­age things could hap­pen to me,’ Ms Cud­dihy said.

“But a di­ag­no­sis of that deadly dis­ease of­fered me an in­vi­ta­tion to ex­pe­ri­ence an alive­ness so pro­found and sober­ing, it filled my heart with grat­i­tude for the in­valu­able gift of be­ing shaken into liv­ing.

“When I am feel­ing dreary, an­noyed or gen­er­ally unim­pressed by life, I re­mind my­self that as long as I am liv­ing, I should feel fan­tas­ti­cally alive,” Ms Cud­dihy said.

“Hope is the be­lief that a pos­i­tive out­come lies ahead. Hope teaches us not to break like china plates, but to break like waves in­stead.

“There is no medicine like the power of hope and the com­fort of sol­i­dar­ity. While we are be­ing tossed around in an ocean of grief, we must an­chor our ship­wrecked hearts to hope.

“Thoughts are some­times fran­tic, some­times un­event­ful, some­times dark, some­times pos­i­tive, of­ten messy, but they must al­ways be in­fused with a sense of hope and with the courage to sim­ply show up for life with its un­for­giv­ing curve balls. We should never lose hope. When the sun sets and the stars come out, we light our can­dles, our bea­cons of hope.”

Par­tic­i­pants then did a lap of hon­our with their loved ones’ lanterns in hand.

So far the Roma event has raised $18,718 for Cancer Coun­cil re­search, preven­tion and information ser­vices, to help sup­port the 134,000 Aus­tralians di­ag­noses with cancer each year.


IG­NIT­ING HOPE: Caide Kra­nen­burg peers in­side a hope lantern dur­ing the can­dle­light cer­e­mony at the 2017 Roma Re­lay for Life.


CEL­E­BRAT­ING IN STYLE: Team Jen Cel­e­bra­tion in their beach themed out­fits at the start of the Re­lay for Life on Satur­day.

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