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Relay for Life off to flying start

The fourth annual Relay For Life has been hailed an overwhelming success with fundraising goals of $600,000 expected to be reached by the final count.

Thousands made their way to the National Sports Centre from 6pm on Friday evening to 6pm on Saturday evening to watch and participate in the 24-hour walk dedicated to cancer fighters, survivors and caregivers.

According to Deborah Titterton Narraway, fundraising and PR manager for Bermuda Cancer and Health Centre, which has driven the initiative to open a radiation therapy facility in Bermuda, some $466,000 was raised by 10pm on Saturday night but the count is ongoing. Organisers are confident that with the extra funds, BCHC will reach its fundraising goal of $600,000.

Ms Titterton-Narraway added: “From our point of view it was an amazing success, thanks to all our participants, vendors and vendees. There was a great number of general admissions this year as well and we are appreciative that during a difficult year the community was that generous.”

The event was one to bring the community together with attendees from all walks of life and corners of Bermuda.

Among the stalls set up was one by Women of Faith, representing Muslim women and their support for the battle against cancer. “Captain of the team” Ameenah Elamin-Steede said the theme of her stall was “Knock Out Cancer”.

“This is our first year to do Relay for Life,” she said. “We wanted to gather some of the Muslim women and we ended up with 29, which is pretty good. We have been doing henna [tattoos] to raise onsite funds and we have a photo board with the motto Knock Out Cancer and pink boxing gloves — some of us were walking around the track with pink gloves on.

“It has been a wonderful event. I really would like to come back again next year. The sisters came out in droves. The Muslim community is not exempt from cancer; it has touched family members and friends. I thought it would be good to help the community.”

Garon Wilkinson was participating as a member of two teams – Team Rope in memory of his grandfather Clive Philpott who passed to cancer, and his employers, Team QBE Equator Re.

Wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with photos of his grandfather, he said: “Team Rope has been walking since 2014 when my grandfather passed. We have done it every year. He had cancer and this is such a great cause. This is always a time when my family comes together, we share stories and have a good time.

“My grandfather was a boatsman and was good with ropes so he got the nickname Rope.

“I also raise funds with my company and it was great for the company.”

The Bosom Buddy Team was on site dressed in full Harry Potter-themed regalia. The Relay for Life is just one of many fundraising efforts the group participates in throughout the year against cancer.

Amy Greenslade said: “It's a good theme because there are lots of costumes to go with it and everyone knows about it. And the children really love it. We have been selling lemonade, popcorn, jelly beans and Hogwarts student IDs. It has been good. We had 180 lemons and we now have zero.”

Asked why she thought Relay for Life was such a good cause to support, she said: “Cancer touches all of us and I think it is important that it is for Bermudians — it is not some obscure charity cause. It will help everyday Bermudians have treatment here.” Tara Curtis executive director for BCHC told The Royal Gazette: “There has been a phenomenal turnout — over 130 teams signed up with close to 4,000 registered participants. It is an amazing happening event. We are celebrating hundreds of fighters, survivors and caregivers. And with $370,000 on the first day, it is record breaking on opening relay.

“We have a $600,000 goal and we officially announced the opening of our state of the art, world-class radiation therapy facility, which will be opening on Wednesday, May 17.

“We are feeling very optimistic that we will reach the goal which will put us at $2m in our four years. All funds are strictly towards the radiotherapy initiative, which is a $10m initiative.”

Minister of Health and Seniors Jeanne Atherden officially opened the fourth annual relay. The event included a visiting team from the Dana Farber Brigham and Women's Cancer Centre which has been BCHC's clinical affiliate partner to design, develop and construct the facility.

Ms Curtis added: “Teams participate together and take turns walking around the track and we do that for 24 hours because cancer never sleeps — we are not going to sleep for 24 hours either.

“From the very beginning we knew we wanted the fundraising dollars from this event to support the radiation therapy initiative.

“We have been looking at a way to bring it to Bermuda for quite a few years because we know there are probably 100 people a year who cannot afford to get overseas for life saving radiation treatment.”

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Relay For Life (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

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Published May 15, 2017 at 9:00 am (Updated May 15, 2017 at 7:57 am)

Relay for Life off to flying start

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