Relay for Life 2022 has been hailed as another success as the fundraising total stretches beyond €50,000.
The final amount is expected to reach beyond this as events and sponsorships continue in the coming months.
The sun beamed down on Letterkenny for the 10th anniversary gathering held to celebrate the lives of cancer survivors, remember those lost to the disease and raise funds for vital research and services of the Irish Cancer Society.
Over 10 years the unique event has raised more than €1.4million for the Irish Cancer Society.
This year’s event was a success right off the bat, as it was a triumph in itself for the committee to resume after Covid-19. Numbers were down on previous years, Robert O’Connor, Chairperson of Relay For Life Donegal, was delighted with the support: “We are delighted with the way the weekend has gone, for the first time in three years.
“With cancer survivors, we are very conscious that a lot are nervous being out after the pandemic. We didn’t want to put anyone in a position where they would be nervous.
“The live stream allowed people all over the world to watch the Relay and people taking part could wave to their families. That sort of thing was lovely.”
Robert commended the “fabulous” entertainers who took to the stage all weekend to keep spirits high during the walk. Relay for Life Donegal patron Daniel O’Donnell and his wife Majella gave great support again this year and acts travelled from near and far to perform free of charge.
“The entertainers are unbelievable,” Robert said. “People have travelled from as far as Limerick over the years to be in Donegal, and they might have to travel right afterwards.”
The weekend is often filled with emotional moments too. The evocative Luminaria Ceremony and the survivors choir remember the many people in the community who have passed away with cancer. Many of the teams walked in memory of loved ones, or in celebration of survivors.
“It’s not all about money,” says Robert. “It’s important to fundraise for the services, but it’s about awareness too. Relay for Life makes people aware of cancer, particularly men, and it gets the conversation started.”
The event also highlights the advancements in treatments that are happening all the time, thanks to research.
“Twenty years ago, certainly 30 years ago, people with cancer first thought about death, now they are more confident they are going to survive it,” Robert said.
“Nobody wanted to talk about the ‘C’ word years ago. But events like the ‘1 for 1 @ 1’ get families talking. We want to provide education and awareness and support people in any way we can.”
After 10 years, Relay for Life still holds a high level of importance in the lives of cancer survivors and bereaved families. So much so, that the committee are determined to keep the event running next year. The message of Relay for Life is to let cancer survivors know that they are not alone, and there is a strong will to ensure that more people hear it.
“We will be back, we thought we wouldn’t be, but survivors are asking us not to let it go. We’ll be back in some shape or form next year and we’ll be making plans once we get the batteries refreshed.”
One other cause will be benefitting from Relay for Life this year, and that’s the Letterkenny Food Bank. The candle ceremony required 3,500 tins of beans, sponsored by Kernans & BWG Foods, to hold down the lights. These will now be donated back into the community.
Robert added: “I would like to thank the people of Donegal and further afield who have supported Relay For Life Donegal over the past 10 years raising funds and enabling The Irish Cancer Society to provide their invaluable services here in the county and to invest in life saving research projects. I want to acknowledge all our survivors, caregivers and teams who came out to take part. Thank you to the entertainers, the volunteers, the local businesses and the media who have been very good to us.”