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Thousands show support in Relay for Life

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Relay for Life kicks off at the National Sports Centre (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Cancer survivors and their supporters came out in the thousands this evening to raise funds for cancer care through the Relay for Life walk.

Volunteers, cancer survivors and their families took to the track for the first day of the two-day fundraiser at the National Sports Centre in Devonshire.

The walk, which celebrates those who fought the disease, was followed by a memorial for those who died of cancer.

Relay for Life kicks off at the National Sports Centre (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Rob Spencer, the founder of Relay for Life, said that this year’s walk coincided with the death of his mother from cancer, which prompted him to create the event.

He said: “I am only three years younger than my mother was when she passed away from cancer those 16 years ago.”

Mr Spencer added: “Relay for Life of Bermuda has become a beacon of hope for many families in our community.

“Today, we come together once again to celebrate the progress that we have made and to renew our commitment to the fight against cancer.”

Relay for Life kicks off at the National Sports Centre (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Coral Wells said that she walked not only to commemorate her battle with breast cancer, but also her mother’s.

The 53-year-old added: “It’s just great to see everybody coming together and showing their support against this awful disease.

“All of the people supporting us – all of the companies and volunteers – it’s pretty amazing to see.”

Ms Wells, who had battled cancer for 16 years, explained that she fought off the disease while pregnant and had to receive treatment overseas.

She stressed that she learnt a person’s mindset and community were vital to helping tackle cancer.

Ms Wells said: “If you have negativity around you when you’re going through cancer, you’re just not going to beat it.”

Ms Wells, from Pembroke, also gave special praise to those who were offering care to cancer fighters.

She said: “We couldn’t get through this without them.”

Relay for Life kicks off at the National Sports Centre (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Relay for Life, which celebrates its 11th anniversary this year, aims to raise funds to support those battling cancer.

It is the Bermuda Cancer Health Centre’s largest fundraiser, having raised more than $2 million in only its first four years.

Relay for Life’s website says that 92 per cent of funds go towards the Bchc’s Equal Access Fund, which ensures that everyone can use the centre’s services without copay regardless of their level of income.

Chief Inspector Arthur Glasford ran with the Bermuda Police Service team as a “celebration of life”.

He explained that he was a two-times cancer survivor, first contracting a rare strain in 2020 and again two years later.

Mr Glasford told The Royal Gazette that he participated to not only show his appreciation for his “second chance”, but to honour those who lost their battles with the disease.

He said: “There’s a lot of camaraderie from the community because it raises a lot of money to help people get equal access.

“Having events like this helps people from all walks of life get care.”

Mr Glasford encouraged people to “have faith in what we have on island” when it came to medical care.

He added: “Be strong – it’s all about your mindset and know that nothing’s unachievable.

“There’s a lot of us out here who’ve beaten cancer, so if we can do it then you can do it too.”

Relay for Life kicks off at the National Sports Centre (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Jarryd Dillas, 38, said that he had been coming to Relay for Life since it started in memory of his father-in-law, Norman Furtado, who died from leukaemia.

Mr Dillas, who came with his wife and mother-in-law, said: “It’s a fantastic event every year and it’s nice to get so many people together for a worthy cause of trying to raise money for cancer research.

“Hopefully, one day we’ll find a full cure for all types of cancer.”

Mr Dillas said that he appreciated the sense of community that came with Relay for Life and the wider cancer community.

He enjoyed seeing the fundraiser grow as more people attended and offered new activities.

Mr Dillas added: “Cancer affects more and more people every year, so each year you see more and more new faces.

“A lot of times our society can be very divisive, so I think it’s nice to get everyone to come together for a common cause.”

Relay for Life kicks off at the National Sports Centre (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Mandy Mizibrocky, 41, has been coming to Relay for Life every year since it started, even shouldering two pregnancies to help show her support.

The 41-year-old said that the event had since become a family tradition.

She added: “Everyone has had someone in their lives who has either had cancer or has killed by cancer.”

Ms Mizibrocky, from Devonshire, said that she loved the sense of community that came with the fundraiser.

She added that before she became a parent she used to stay overnight to participate in both Relay for Life events.

Ms Mizibrocky encouraged everybody to participate in the fundraiser at least once, “even if you don’t stay overnight”.

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Published May 11, 2024 at 7:57 am (Updated May 11, 2024 at 7:57 am)

Thousands show support in Relay for Life

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