Last weekend I headed off to Ducketts Grove, Co. Carlow for Relay for Life. A 24 hour community celebration that raises funds for the Irish Cancer Society.
|One of the super tents on site.|
|Relays got Talent contestant!|
So how does the 24 hours go....Relay begins with a survivors lap. A survivor is anyone who has ever been told 'you have cancer'. This year we had over 50 survivors at Relay. They each wear a purple t-shirt. They are of all ages and from all different backgrounds. Its just goes to show that cancer doesn't care who you are or where you are from. The survivors lead off Relay as it is them who give inspiration to others undergoing treatment. They are an amazing group with smiles on all their faces. Some are a little shy but I know everyone including myself is so proud of them for not being afraid to take part. Some of the survivors are still undergoing treatment.
|Survivors on their lap.|
|The team mission banner|
As night falls over Ducketts Grove the most emotional part of Relay begins. The luminaria ceremony. This is when the lights are all turned out and the track is lit by candles, this year 1400. Each candle sits in a little bag with a message on it. Some are messages of, remembrance, some of celebration and some of thanks and hope. At the ceremony there were about 600 people. Once the candle ceremony started there was pure silence. All that could be heard was the crunch of the gravel underfoot and the odd sniffle as people thought about the loved ones they have lost. The candles symbolise the hope family and friends of someone battling cancer can bring. Things may sometimes seem dark but there is always someone there to help and light the way.
|A little piece of the track lit up.|
|A simple message...|
Dawn broke with a 6am Zumba class. The teacher, god bless her, was full of energy, it took a little bit of effort to get our relayers going though. The rest of Sunday passed with more fun laps, fun and games and a very brave lad who started the trend of dong crazy things to your hair for a donation. I said to him I would get €50 donated if he got a pink mohawk...I went around with a bucket and had over €70 in less then five minutes. People are so generous and even more so when someone is willing to do something silly for the donation!
|A relay sweet shop...a treat now and again is good!|
On Sunday afternoon the people of Carlow showed up in force to support Relay. We just did not expect the thousands of people that turned up. It was just great. Everyone coming and going commented on how great the event. What I found really special was how complete strangers came up to us and started sharing there own very personal cancer stories. Relay seems to do that to people and I think they feel it helps.
We finished the 24 hours with a final team lap and a balloon release. There were different colour balloons all representing different kinds of cancers. Perhaps its a bit of tiredness kicking in after being on the go since 8am the previous morning but I know I'm not the only one who found this quite emotional as well.
|The local firemen in Carlow presenting Relay with a cheque|
|Relay is for any age!|
This year we also had a sister Relay in Elmhurst, Illinois. They relayed over the same 24 hours we did. It just shows that though we are miles apart, cancer is a worldwide issue and so is the fight.
To date through the hard work of the committee, teams, their friends and families and the general Carlow community we have banked over €33,000 for The Irish Cancer Society. Truly amazing!!!
|Susan (r) and me (l) with Jedward!!!|
As its my blog I'm going to finish this post by thanking all the teams who took part. Its a privilege to get to know you and work with you guys. You stories are inspirational and the effort you all put into Relay is above and beyond!
To the committee you guys are all amazing and consider myself lucky to count you among my friends.
Also a big thanks to Kevin, our staff partner from the ICS, Thanks for helping us bring Relay for Life to life in Carlow.
|Cathy, me, Ger and Susan..a few of the committee|
Relay for Life is happening in communities all around Ireland this Summer. Nenagh, Ballinasloe and Dundalk are all joining in the fight. The Irish Cancer Society run a really great helpline and also have a super website. If at any stage you or someone you know gets the awful diagnosis, help, information and reassurance is just a phone call or click away.
If you have any Relay stories we would love to hear them so leave your comments below. Should you wish to get involved next year or would like to see some more snaps or get more info see our Facebook page
This is just a little bit of what goes on over the 24 hours! I hope you enjoyed the read...