Relay For Life I hear you say! Don’t you mean Race For Life?!
Nope, it’s Relay For Life. I know everyone has heard about Race For Life and most women have taken part or know someone who has done one of the races.
A few years back, I was part of a group called Telford Group of Friends and we helped raise money for Cancer Research. When you are part of a fundraising group, you are always looking for new ideas to help raise money and this is exactly how I came across Relay For Life.
Relay For Life is a 24 hour team event where at least 1 of your team are walking around a track at any one given time. This is to symbolise that cancer never sleeps. The idea is that you fundraise throughout the year with your team and then the event itself is celebration of all the hard work you have done. The teams can be from 1+ but the more people you have on your team, the easier the 24 hours is.
If you have taken part in Race then you will know of the great achievement you have when you cross the finish line – well image that when you have done 24 hours of walking, running, jogging, hopping (basically however you want to go around the track!)
Relay invite cancer survivors along as VIPs. A survivor can be someone who has just been diagnosed, are going through treatment, have been cancer free for years (and hopefully with many more to come) or they can be someone who has unfortunately been told that there is no more medical help than can be given to them – all of these people are or have survived cancer and Relay celebrate this. For starters, they can join the event for free (everyone has to sign up and pay a fee), they get a purple t-shirt through the post with survivor on – the reason for purple is that this is the colour for all cancers. The survivors also get to open the event with a lap of the track and all the other participants line the track and clap them along and then they go off for a meal. Now I’m not one for being able to talk to people straight away, so lucky you are able to take a friend or family member along with you for all of this (they also get their own t-shirt) and these people are called Care-Givers. They are someone who has helped you along your way in your cancer journey, whether that be just taking you to the hospital for appointments or being that ear to listen and a shoulder to cry on.
So the event starts off like this – the survivors open up the event with their lap with their care givers and then each team gets announced on to the track. Some Relays have it that the survivors judge the teams and then they win a prize. Following on from this lap someone then has to be on the track from your team at any one point. Believe it or not though, it doesn’t get boring. There are laps done in fancy dress, there are cancer awareness laps and some relays even have a silent disco throughout the night.
For those who are not on the track, there are stalls put on by all the teams so generate the last bit of money for their teams, there’s live bands playing throughout and even more things to get involved in.
This all generally goes on until sunset, where all the teams are pulled for the track to gather together for the Candle of Hope ceremony. This is where we all reflect and remember those who we have lost along the way. Poems are read, survivors will make speeches and candles are lit. This is one of my favourite parts of the whole event. If you’re a softy like me then this will have you in tears. Everyone then takes to the track to walk together (usually in silence). The track is lit by candle bags which have been decorated and donated for loved ones – it really is a pretty sight to be seen.
The night quietens down from here until the Sunday morning where all the fun starts again.
You can find out more information here about Relay and where your nearest one is. If you don’t take part, go down on the day and you will see what I mean when I say it is a heart warming event.
The first year I did Relay was on a committee and we raised over £30,000 which wasn’t bad for our first year. The second year I took part which was really fun to take part in all of the games which the committee lay on for you.
Have you done a Relay For Life before? Which one did you take part in and what was your favourite bit?