independent

Thursday 20 September 2018

Wexford's Relay for Life event benefits from local support

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
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

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 on-site as well.'

Wexford People

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