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Cancer charity appeal for public support for major fundraiser

An earlier Relay for Life fundraising event (Photograph provided)

A cancer charity yesterday appealed for support for its biggest fundraiser of the year next month.

The Bermuda Cancer and Health Centre said the success of the annual Relay for Life event was crucial after last year’s event raised significantly less than usual.

Lynne Woolridge, the BCHC CEO, said: "Relay For Life is the Centre's largest fundraising initiative, and these donations are critical to the centre's ability to offer diagnostic imaging and radiation therapy without having to change a co-pay or having uninsured persons pay for their appointments out of pocket.

“Due to Covid-19, the 2020 event raised $300,000 less than prior years and, without a traditional event in 2021, an additional shortfall in funds will negatively impact the centre.”

Ms Woolridge added the charity supported the more than 300 people diagnosed with cancer in Bermuda every year.

She explained major medical health insurance could cover the cost of most clinical services, but other health insurance options could leave patients with out of pocket expenses.

The Relay for Life event was designed to fund services without the need for co-pays.

Ms Woolridge said: “In prior years, due in large part to our community's generous support, the centre has subsidised approximately $2 million in services annually.

“We help about 860 patients a year to receive a range of potentially life-saving services that they might not otherwise have afforded.”

Deborah Titterton Narraway, the cochairwoman of the fundraising event, said: “The majority of us do not have a rainy day fund of more than $80,000 just in case we need cancer treatment.

“No one should have to choose to put off a diagnostic imaging appointment that could find cancer early when most treatable because they chose to feed their children that month instead.

"The power of Relay For Life is that it is a community event. We are asking Relay teams, cancer survivors, sponsors and the community to support this year by registering, fundraising, sponsoring or donating.“

Ms Titterton-Narraway added: "Cancer doesn't sleep, nor does it discriminate who will be affected."

The Relay for Life – usually an in-person, 24-hour relay event – was virtual last year because of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

This year’s event will go ahead on May 14 and 15 as a “hybrid virtual and drive-through experience” because of continued coronavirus restrictions.

Relay teams were asked to meet and participate on a virtual basis.

The ceremonies, speeches and entertainment will be broadcast on Facebook.

Organisers said they hoped to hold a Covid-safe drive-through “Luminaria experience” on May 14 to celebrate the lives of loved ones lost to cancer.

The event is been backed by Liberty Mutual Insurance, who continue as the lead sponsor.

Steve Horton, the president of Liberty Specialty Market, said that the event had funded a radiation treatment centre in Bermuda, which had benefited the public.

Mr Horton added: “The impact of this is huge, allowing residents to be treated on island, as well as treating those who are uninsured or underinsured who previously would simply not have been treated

“One of Liberty’s values is to put people first and this is more important now than ever before as we come together to support our community.”

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Published April 23, 2021 at 7:51 am (Updated April 23, 2021 at 5:44 am)

Cancer charity appeal for public support for major fundraiser

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