Re­lay for Life ben­e­fits from its lo­cal sup­port

Wexford People - - NEWS - By BREN­DAN KEANE

THE OR­GAN­IS­ERS of this year’s Re­lay for Life event in Wex­ford have been given a €2,500 cash boost by Pet­titt’s Su­per­Valu St Aidan’s.

The an­nual event will this year take place in Pairc Char­man, Wex­ford, on July 14 and 15, and the Su­per­Valu store is spon­sor­ing the sur­vivor­ship pro­gramme which is a fun­da­men­tal com­po­nent of the event. Speak­ing to this news­pa­per the Chair­per­son of the or­gan­is­ing com­mit­tee, Gay Mur­phy, thanked all of the busi­nesses and peo­ple in the com­mu­nity who have sup­ported the ini­tia­tive since it be­gan in 2016.

‘It orig­i­nally started in Amer­ica about 40 years ago and has been in Ire­land for a cou­ple of years,’ she said.

‘Some­one asked me would I like to bring it to Wex­ford and as some­one who was per­son­ally af­fected by can­cer I de­cided I would try but it’s been a great suc­cess and it’s a lovely fam­ily event,’ she added.

The first year saw 17 teams and 80 sur­vivors par­tic­i­pat­ing along with hun­dreds of sup­port­ers how­ever, that num­ber grew to 34 teams and 100 sur­vivors last year - who were ably as­sisted by thou­sands of sup­port­ers.

With re­gard to this year’s event Mrs Mur­phy said: ‘It’s look­ing like we will have 47 teams and we estimate there will be around 120 sur­vivors in at­ten­dance.’

She also em­pha­sised the three key as­pects to Re­lay for Life - cel­e­brate, re­mem­ber and fight back.

‘The first as­pect is about cel­e­brat­ing the fact that peo­ple do sur­vive can­cer and it need not be an au­to­matic death sen­tence,’ said Mrs Mur­phy.

‘We get the sur­vivors to reg­is­ter and they get a pur­ple t-shirt which is the colour of hope,’ she added.

On the day of the re­lay the sur­vivors will do the first lap to kick things off and the se­cond lap will be com­pleted by care­givers.

‘The teams then join in and it re­ally is a fun, fam­ily-ori­en­tated event,’ said Mrs Mur­phy.

In con­trast to the se­ri­ous­ness of the ill­ness around which it’s based the Re­lay for Life event ex­hudes a pos­i­tive, calm and hope-filled at­mo­sphere and that’s some­thing that’s very im­por­tant to the or­gan­is­ers.

In many ways it’s a cel­e­bra­tion of life and with food and mu­sic on the night it’s an all-en­com­pass­ing event and its ap­peal was high­lighted by the in­crease in the num­ber of peo­ple who at­tended last year.

‘Fol­low­ing their open­ing lap the sur­vivors are brought to the Sur­vivors’ Mar­quee where they are treated like VIPs and that’s es­sen­tially what they are be­cause the event is about them,’ said Mrs Mur­phy.

‘It also gives hope to other peo­ple af­fected by can­cer to see so many sur­vivors,’ she added.

The re­mem­brance as­pect of the re­lay is fo­cussed on re­mem­ber­ing those who have passed away as a re­sult of the ill­ness but it’s done in the most thought-pro­vok­ing and in­spir­ing way imag­in­able.

‘We have a Can­dle of Hope cer­e­mony at around 10 pm and we sell can­dle bags and they are bought at the event and they are brought to the side of the track in ded­i­ca­tion to peo­ple who have passed away and also to peo­ple who are on a can­cer jour­ney,’ said Mrs Mur­phy.

The can­dle bags are lit by night lights which re­main alight through­out the night cre­at­ing a beau­ti­ful over­all at­mo­sphere.

The fight-back as­pect of the event it based around rais­ing aware­ness of the ill­ness and of the work done by the Ir­ish Can­cer So­ci­ety.

‘It’s also about help­ing peo­ple to change their lifestyle habits so that they them­selves can work to­wards de­creas­ing their chances of get­ting the ill­ness.’

The live en­ter­tain­ment stops at mid­night but there will be two movies screened to bring those in at­ten­dance into the early hours of

Sun­day, July 15.

‘There is a calm­ness to the night at that point that gives peo­ple the op­por­tu­nity to just re­lax, think, and just en­joy the at­mo­sphere,’ said Mrs Mur­phy.

There will be karaoke to wake peo­ple up at 6.30 am on the Sun­day. The free event is open to every­one in the com­mu­nity and not just peo­ple who have been af­fected by can­cer,

‘It re­ally is a fam­ily-friendly event and we would en­cour­age as many peo­ple as pos­si­ble to at­tend,’ said Mrs Mur­phy.

‘There will be fun games like foot­ball and other events and there will be food ven­dors on­site as well.’

Nicky Byrne, man­ager, Pet­titt’s Su­per­Valu St. Aidan’s, presents €2,500 to Wex­ford Re­lay For Life chair­per­son Gay Mur­phy (se­cond from left) and sur­vivor chair­per­son Julie Jack­son. Also pic­tured are Pet­titt’s Su­per­Valu staff mem­bers, from left, Peter Hamil­ton, Stephen Hickey and Bar­bara Hamil­ton.

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