Lisa Nagle, Peter Whyte, Niamh Curley, Emma Hayden, Evan Arkwright, and Peter O'Neill at the Relay for Life launch 2022
Cancer is a deeply personal thing for almost everyone, we have all lost a mother, a brother, a cousin or a friend. Ahead of the event itself on July 23, one of the Relay for Life organisers, Peter Whyte gathered everyone around at the Curragh Racecourse, this year's host venue, last Wednesday, to thank them for their participation and continued support for the cause that the Curragh racecourse will play host to.
As Peter came to thank the Irish Cancer Society, we were introduced to a representative, Emma Hayden. Emma gave a tearful tribute to a family member that she had lost to cancer just the day before. They were touching words that served as an emotional reminder of why we were all here to continue to support the work of Relay for Life.
Another driving force behind this operation and a cancer survivor himself is Peter O’Neill. Peter talked me through what will take place over the 24-hour event in July and why it is so special to be back in person and at the Curragh racecourse.
“The relay itself starts off at 1o’clock on the Saturday and it starts with the survivors taking the first lap. After that they are brought back in here, served refreshments and some pampering for them because they are the most important people of the relay. They show others that you can survive from cancer. A lot of us on the committee and even the choir you can see around wearing our purple t-shirts, survivors are identified by our purple t-shirts,” Peter said proudly as he pointed to the word ‘survivor’ written on his purple t-shirt.
The passion for this cause was clear to see and it was a passion I shared. I saw my grandmother battle cancer and win triumphantly. She has done the relay before but I may pick her up one of those purple t-shirts for this year’s event.
Peter also described the finer details of the relay and the emotional significance of all the elements of the day. The team members, who are made up of cancer survivors, lead the charge on relay day.
“There are candle bags sold by the committee and given to the teams. The candles are decorated in honour of someone who has died from cancer, is fighting or has survived. They come back to us in numerical order and during the relay the scouts lay them all out in a parallelogram shape and that forms the relay path. It is around that path that all the team members walk during the 24 hours of relay,” Peter explained.
“It's huge to have it back in person after two years. It’s like a new beginning to us coming back here, back to our home which we feel is in the Curragh. The interest in the Curragh and the new structure here we are hoping to get a bumper number of teams this year.”
There was special mention given to key three key phrases throughout the launch, Celebrate those in purple who have survived, Remember who we have lost, and Fight back against this disease.
There was great appreciation from all in attendance that the event was back in the Curragh this year, after some time away for renovations to the venue and then followed by the Covid-19 pandemic, Relay for Life, felt they were back to normal again.
Curragh Racecourse CEO Brian Kavanagh spoke about his delight to welcome back the event to the Curragh: “It was such an easy decision for us at the Curragh, we have been anxious to get back to supporting the event and we would like to congratulate the team on their efforts for it.”
All of the Relay for Life team shared their appreciation to all in attendance, Niamh Curley who is organising the teams this year and Lisa Nagle who is in charge of the survivors care both spoke to the importance of the heroes in all this, the survivors themselves. The ones who don the purple t-shirts show all of those battling cancer right now that it is possible to beat it.
The emotional words and the tributes were all spoken around the brilliant music from the Newbridge gospel choir.
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