‘Relay for Life’ meeting draws a record crowd

About 180 people gathered in Letterkenny on Monday at what the Irish Cancer Society said was the best-attended Relay for Life meeting held in Ireland to date.

About 180 people gathered in Letterkenny on Monday at what the Irish Cancer Society said was the best-attended Relay for Life meeting held in Ireland to date.

“Really, the buzz around the place was incredible,” said Anne Condon, PRO of the Donegal committee. “It was just lovely.”

Relay for Life, a 24-hour walking relay that has been held throughout Ireland to raise money for the Irish Cancer Society, will be held at the Letterkenny Institute of Technology on May 26-27th.

This is the first time the event will be held in Donegal, and Monday’s public meeting was designed to provide information and encourage people to take part.

Highland Radio’s Charlie Collins served as master of ceremonies, introducing members of the committee who spoke about why they became involved. At one point committee member Garvan McCloskey asked people in the audience who had been affected by cancer to stand -- either people who had been affected personally, or through an experience with a loved one -- and only two people were left seated.

“There were some very good speeches from the committee, some survivors themselves,” Anne said.

In Relay for Life, teams of families, friends, neighbours and colleagues must commit to keeping at least one team member walking around the track for 24 hours. The Donegal committee are also planning entertainment and other activities to add a festive atmosphere throughout the day and night. Singing star Daniel O’Donnell has been among the first to pledge his support to the effort.

In the evening, when the skies darken, there will also be a candle ceremony and people will be able to purchase candles that will be used to light the track. The first lap in a Relay for Life, the lap of honour, is always undertaken by cancer survivors; carers join them on the second lap. Then the teams take the course.

“We are looking to have survivors register with us because they are the people we are there to celebrate,” Anne said.

There was great interest on Monday.

“There were people interested in taking part in the relay itself, there were survivors there, there were people wanting to know how they could help,” Anne said. She said there were tables at the back where people could volunteer for fundraising or to provide entertainment.

“Twenty-four hours is a long time,” Anne said.

It looks as though the committee has enlisted the 60 teams they needed for the relay, though Anne said interested teams should still contact the committee. And they are still looking for people interested in volunteering for other aspects of the event, from stewards, to people selling the fundraising candles, to anyone who can provide sponsorship or prizes, or entertainment. There may be hairdressers or therapists who could provide services to cancer survivors, or others with different ideas for fundraising.

“We want people to come and call in during the 24 hours to cheer people on,” Anne said.

More information is available at the Relay for Life Donegal page on Facebook, or by email at relayforlifedonegal@gmail.com.