The 2016 Re­lay for Life unites Prossie and the beach in a stand against the ‘Big C’

Whitsunday Times - - FRONT PAGE -

There have been more teams, an ex­treme amount of money has been raised. — Wendy Barker

Peter Car­ruthers Peter.Car­ruthers@apn.com.au IT’S of­fi­cial: The 2016 Whit­sun­day Re­lay for Life has raised $46,760.65.

Twenty-eight teams, made up of more than 300 peo­ple, spent 18 hours walk­ing a cir­cuit at the Proser­pine Show­ground over the week­end to beat a dis­ease that touches the lives of so many peo­ple in the Queens­land com­mu­nity.

One per­son is di­ag­nosed with can­cer ev­ery 20 min­utes in Queens­land.

Co-event co-or­di­na­tor Leonie Arthur said, after the event was nearly can­celled last year due to lack of sup­port, this year’s in­ter­est had gone beyond the com­mit­tee’s ex­pec­ta­tions.

“This year ev­ery­one has been more en­gaged. The com­mit­tee has been more fo­cused and more grounded and has worked to­gether as a unit,” she said.

Though the event strives to deal a knock-out blow to a dis­ease that can strike any­one at any time, Ms Arthur said it also brought the com­mu­nity to­gether.

“It’s break­ing down the bar­rier be­tween Prossie and the beach. You look at the teams here, 50% of them are from Cannonvale and Air­lie Beach and a lot of the do­na­tions have come from busi­nesses run from the beach. And Prossie has been very well rep­re­sented here. I think that is bril­liant and one thing we need to look at as a re­gion,” she said.

“Break­ing down that wall and com­ing to­gether as the Whit­sun­days and the won­der­ful com­mu­nity we do have.”

Ms Arthur lost her mother to can­cer and has been one the event co­or­di­na­tors for the last two years.

At 2pm on Satur­day she was there when the re­lay got un­der way, opened by can­cer sur­vivors and their car­ers do­ing a solo lap of the arena be­fore the teams be­gan their marathon, all-night ef­fort.

At 7pm as night fell a can­dle-light trib­ute was held for those who lost their bat­tle with the dis­ease and par­tic­i­pants wrote mes­sages to loved ones on pa­per bags and placed a can­dle in­side.

The lit­tle lanterns of hope were placed around the perime­ter of the walk­ing track and the lights were dimmed in trib­ute.

Eighty four-year-old June Hin­schen a can­cer sur­vivor from Proser­pine led open­ing march around the show­ground arena.

When asked what the Re­lay for Life meant to her the an­swers was sim­ple: “I am alive,” she said.

She added the event was a great way to bring the com­mu­nity to­gether for a good cause.

“I like watch­ing the lit­tle ones. My lit­tle grand­daugh­ter would love to be here but she is in Mackay. She was one of my car­ers,” she said.

It was a weary but good­spir­ited bunch of walk­ers after go­ing all night that at­tended the clos­ing cer­e­mony of the 2016 Re­lay for Life.

Prizes were be­stowed on teams for the best-dressed walker, best camp and the team that raised the most money.

This year the Caped Cru­saders won that ti­tle after they man­aged to pocket $13,062 for the Queens­land Can­cer Coun­cil.

Co-event co-or­di­na­tor Wendy Barker said it was a “won­der­ful event”.

“There have been more teams, an ex­treme amount of money has been raised and more to come in. I am ex­tremely proud of the com­mit­tee, they have done a won­der­ful job,” she said.

“And with­out the teams and the kids it would not have been pos­si­ble. We had so many kids’ teams from most of the schools. St Cath’s had four teams take part.” Ms Barker said plans for next year were be­ing made early to al­low the teams as much time to raise funds as pos­si­ble.

The Bun­nings mad sci­en­tist team be­gin their re­lay.

Jenn Rat­tray, Stephanie Bacon, Co­ralee and Alex Katas­doros, Be­nard Woods, Belinda, Made­line and Evan Beale are team Ray White Whit­sun­day.

Can­cer sur­vivor Lynne Er­ricker at the 2016 Re­lay for Life on Satur­day.

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