Relay for Life Tipperary 2012, held in St Michael’s Park, Toomevara last weekend, was a highly successful and very moving event, raising considerable funds for the Irish Cancer Society and bringing new awareness and understanding of the issues raised by cancer to all who took part.
With almost 1,000 taking part in teams and with over 100 survivors and an equal number of carers involved, Relay was one of the biggest events to take place in the county this year.
Despite a little rain on Saturday afternoon which failed to dampen the spirit, the weather was mostly kind.
The event was officially opened by Greg Starr at 5pm on Saturday afternoon and the very first lap was walked by survivors. This was a very moving lap emphasising the celebration of life that underpins Relay and highlighting that there is hope of overcoming the disease.
The second lap was walked by carers, who were thanked by survivors as they walked for their love, patience and bravery.
The teams then took to the track and continued to walk for a full 24 hours. As darkness fell, almost 4,000 Candles of Hope were placed lighting around the track. After a brief and poignant ceremony at 10pm at which there was a huge attendance, the arena was plunged into darkness and everybody walked the track which was lit by the candles, each representing a person affected by cancer – either celebrating one who had survived, remembering one who did not make it, or wishing well to somebody who is currently fighting the disease.
The candles continued to light throughout the night. For many, the night-time was the most meaningful part of Relay; walking in the quiet night-time around the track, lined by candles representing so many people we know and knew, gave a new consciousness of how cancer can affect so many in our community.
While there is a serious, even sad, side to Relay, the essence of Relay for Life is celebration of life, and it is a fun and cheerful occasion. There was camaraderie on the track, where people have lots of time to reconnect and chat with friends and strangers, and this was added to by the lively entertainment from the stage, the fun laps during the event and the activities for families and children. Indeed, one of the features of this year’s event was the number of young people and children who attended, bringing with them great life and energy.
The organising committee wish to thank the very many people who supported Relay – the teams, the volunteers, the sponsors, and all who helped in so many ways. They wish to thank Greg Starr for opening the event and for his enthusiasm throughout and they wish to extend a particular thanks to the members of Toomevara GAA Club who gave unstinting and invaluable support throughout the event –it could not possibly have taken place without them. Relay for Life 2013 was deemed a huge success by everyone involved. It has increased our awareness of the implications of cancer for our society, and will have raised significant funds for fighting the disease – final figures will be announced in the coming weeks.