Saturday 18 January 2020

Relay for life raises whopping €90,000

Tears as organisers reflect on success of event that is much more than just a fundraiser

The organising committee: Jayne O’Sullivan, John Sutton, Siobhan Murphy Sutton, Samantha Freegrove, Eileen Kearney (Irish Cancer Society), Gill Wilde, Gay Murphy and Julie Jackson
The organising committee: Jayne O’Sullivan, John Sutton, Siobhan Murphy Sutton, Samantha Freegrove, Eileen Kearney (Irish Cancer Society), Gill Wilde, Gay Murphy and Julie Jackson
Organisers and team captains at the presentation of the €90,000 cheque to Eileen Kearney of The Irish Cancer Society in ‘The Street’ at Wexford County Council Buildings

Anna Hayes

There were tears of emotion at Wexford County Council as the committee of Relay four Life revealed their astonishing final total of funds raised for 2018.

The group presented a cheque for a whopping €90,000 to Eileen Kearney from the Irish Cancer Society.

Before that, there were hijinks on the stage as the committee, holding one number each, carried out a slow reveal of the final total. The only problem was that all of the numbers were upside down on the turn over!

Master of Ceremonies Gillian Wilde interrupted the applause to point out that the 'six' being held up by one volunteer should actually have been a 'nine' and what was already an impressive figure became even more momentous.

Relay chairperson Gay Murphy remarked that people in the audience had cried when they saw the final total which was raised through the 24-hour event, and in numerous events up and down the county in the months leading up to that.

'The teams organise their own events once they've registered. They could have anything from coffee mornings and fashion shows to simple sponsorship cards. Every event contributes to the end result of €90,000. The total shows that Relay is a total community event - it was supported by a lot of people who probably have never attended the Relay itself.'

This year was the third time the event was run in Wexford and both the participation and the funds have risen considerably.

In 2016, 17 teams took part in the event, raising €20,000. The following year, the number of teams doubled to 34, and the funds increased to €55,000. This year, 48 teams played their part, bringing the total amount raised over the three years to €165,000.

But for Gay, who is a cancer survivor herself, the Relay for Life means more than just the numbers on the cheque: 'It is much more than a fundraiser. It's about what the public takes away from it. You have to experience the Relay to understand the atmosphere of it. It helps people come to terms with things and we hope that it shows them that they're not alone.'

She added that the first lap in the relay was completed by survivors and this was often an emotional experience for all in attendance.

'The Relay is about three things: Celebrating the survivors; remembering those who sadly lost their battle; and fighting back by raising awareness of the Irish Cancer Society and what it does, as well as what we can do ourselves to maintain general good health.'

On the night, DJ Lee Hynes provided music before Gillian Wilde took over as MC, welcoming everyone to the event and giving an outline of the night.

A ten-minute video of this year's event, filmed by John Michael Murphy, was played before Gay spoke, and a big thank you was offered to all of the participating teams.

Following the reveal, Eileen Kearney spoke about the Irish Cancer Society and the work they did, and the dates for next year's relay (July 13 and 14) were announced.

The demand for places is so great now that the registration will open for a two-hour window on a Saturday in February and teams will have to have their deposit paid to guarantee a slot. At 50 teams, the event is effectively at maximum capacity.

Gay remarked: 'The Relay has definitely gone from strength to strength over the last three years. For me, it just hammers home what a great little community we have in Wexford. We facilitated the event but it was the people of Wexford who came together and did the rest.'

Wexford People

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