It all started off rather slowly, and the targets of 40 teams and $50,000 raised seemed a long way off.
But fast-forward to last weekend, and the Parkes and District Relay For Life exceeded all expectations, with 45 teams taking part and almost $70,000 being raised.
The provisional total of $69,000 was announced on Sunday at the closing ceremony.
Relay For Life Coordinator, Camilla Barlow has expressed ‘hearty thanks and congratulations to the community.’
‘With more than 600 participants taking to the track on Saturday afternoon, the event was off to a great start with over $49,000 banked before even a step was taken,” she said.
“Teams and participants held fun and fabulous fundraising activities such as cake stalls, massage tents, busking, jelly bean guessing competitions, meat raffles, nail and hair salons, face painting, pet hire, tug-of-war, jumping castles, movie nights and much more!
The honorary Survivors and Carers lap was followed by a delightful afternoon tea provided by the Quota Club under the shade of the Parkes Shire Council marquee, while participants walked on and were entertained by live music & entertainment from the Parkes M&D Society, martial arts demonstrations and dance sessions.
The always moving Candlelight Ceremony of Hope which traditionally takes place on dusk allowed Parkes to reflect and remember their loved ones lost to cancer – and when Hope on the Hill turned to Cure to the sound of the bagpipes, Parkes was sent a message to keep on walking as every step taken at the Relay For Life will help Cancer Council NSW see their mission of cancer defeated a reality.
This year the Parkes & District Relay For Life held the inaugural Close the Gap Lap during the closing ceremony – where all participants put their hand up to fight back against cancer, and raise awareness surrounding the inequities facing the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cancer statistics. Cancer Council NSW volunteer Graham Williams addressed the crowd at the Closing Ceremony and explained why.
“Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders are 60% more likely to die from their cancer diagnosis than non-Aboriginal Australians, so if Cancer Council NSW is dedicated to defeating all cancers in all people, they must address these issues head on“ Graham said. The Close the Gap Lap was an all-inclusive final lap where participants came together to celebrate their amazing 18 hour effort and think about what they can do to fight back against cancer and close the gap.
The local organising committee are extremely grateful to the Parkes & District Relay For Life sponsors including; NAB, Prime7, Northparkes Mines, Parkes Champion Post & Radio 2PK as well as many generous community groups and organisations including Transtank, Parkes Rotary, Parkes SES, Parkes Shire Council and many other local businesses for providing much needed goods and services.
Teams and businesses will be officially thanked at the upcoming Teams Thank You Session (date TBC) – an informal evening held at Parkes Library Coventry Room – here the winners of competitions including Best Dressed Team, Best Dressed Tent, Most SunSmart Team and more will be announced, feedback will be encouraged, and the grand fundraising total will be announced!
On behalf of Cancer Council NSW, Relay For Life Coordinator Camilla Barlow would also like to extend a huge thank you to the local organising team and the community of Parkes & district. “Congratulations to all those who stepped out and fundraised for the Relay For Life with so much enthusiasm, those who supported the Relay and teams generously, and those who simply came to Northparkes Oval to check out all the action. Its not just about the money, it is what the money can do, and it was amazing to see such a strong community come together in the fight against cancer for a wonderful weekend of community caring – we can’t wait to see you all again in 2014!”.