Relay a beacon of hope

More than 500 participants from 20 teams took over Tyers Recreation Reserve at the weekend for the Latrobe Valley Relay For Life.

Relay For Life has been held for 15 years in the region and is a moving overnight experience that raises vital funds for cancer research, prevention and support services.

This year’s event raised more than $66,000 for Cancer Council Victoria and saw people from all walks of life come together for a night of fun in the name of a great cause.

Latrobe Relay For Life chair Sue Van Heurck said the 2017 event had “a beautiful feel about it” and was a true reflection of community spirit.

“There are many great causes but it’s very rare that you speak to someone who hasn’t been affected by cancer in some way … it touches us all,” Ms Van Heurck said.

“There’s a lot of meaning within the event itself … we’re working with families, groups, friends and colleagues and it doesn’t matter your age or fitness.

“Everyone is there for the same reason and that’s to wish for a cancer-free world.”

Relay For Life teams registered and fundraised for the year leading up to the weekend’s event where they gathered to camp out under the stars before walking in honour of cancer sufferers past and present.

The opening ceremony at dusk on Saturday involved the lighting of three candles – one for cancer sufferers past, one to honour those surviving with cancer and another to symbolise the hope for a cancer-free world.

“It was just beautiful with all the lights down …everyone had a story about a person they know or have known with cancer and there was a huge loving family feel because we were all there for the same cause,” she said.

Teams also donned colourful costumes and designed personalised batons for the relay itself to reflect each unique cancer experience.

As teams walked around the Tyers Recreation Reserve oval some carried bags lit up with candles and messages of hope as photo tributes surrounded the course.

“The relay was personal for every team in a different way,” Ms Van Heurck said.

“It was fantastic to see the support from the community because it is a big commitment … to come, set up camp, stay overnight and have a team of people walk around.

“But it was very special for everyone.”

The event also involved games and activities for children, a fashions on the oval segment and live music from local band Pix ‘n’ Stix and singer Matt Cornell.

Team Thorpy Hopes took out the title for most funds raised with just over $14,000 going towards Cancer Council Victoria while the Spirit of Relay award went to Dodd’s Army.