Relay For Life (RFL) is an international event that gives communities across the globe a chance to celebrate the lives of people who have battled cancer. Each year more than 4 million people in over 20 countries take part in this global outreach and raise much-needed funds and awareness. RFL began in 1985 in Tacoma, Washington when Dr. Gordon Klatt
walked for 24 hours to raise money for the American Cancer Society
. The next year, he invited his friends to join him. People camped out and took turns walking the track. Since then, RFL events have spread around the world and to date have raised a billion dollars to support programs aimed at eliminating cancer.
In Malaysia, RFL began in Penang in 2005. Two years later, the National Cancer Society Malaysia (NCSM)
expanded the event to Kuala Lumpur, and then to the historical town of Melaka in 2011. Today, RFL is an annual event in Penang, Kuala Lumpur and Melaka, raising thousands of ringgit to help educate, care and support Malaysians who are dealing with cancer. The relay is an overnight event that runs for sixteen hours, bringing together participants from various local elementary and high schools, higher institutions of learning, corporate bodies, families and friends to celebrate the lives of cancer survivors. The high-spirited event also serves to remember the lives of loved ones who have lost the battle to cancer.
The RFL begins as light begins to fall to symbolize the darkness and lonliness of the cancer journey. Each team was asked to have a representative on the track at all times during the event, because cancer never sleeps. As light breaks over the track, so hope begins to dawn for cancer victims who make it through the long night of treatment and become survivors. This year for RFL 2013, more than 3,000 participants of all ages and nationalities took part in the event, with 367 participants from Taylor's Education Group
. Taylor’s team, represented by staff and students of Taylor’s Hostel Management (THM)
, Taylor's University
and Taylor’s College Subang Jaya (TCSJ)
successfully raised RM11,367 donation for NCSM.
The highlight of the event was the Luminaria ceremony, which began at dusk as cancer survivors are honoured and those have lost their battle with the disease, are remembered. During the ceremony, people many purchase a luminaria in memory or in honour of someone who has been touched by cancer. The luminaria bags are placed around the track and lit during a memorial program. Neo Ming Yi
, a participant from TCSJ notes, “This programme is the most meaningful that I’ve participated in. Despite having to give up my rest and study time, I still enjoyed it very much. I realised it was an opportunity for me to send my blessings to my relatives who have passed on due to cancer. The sixteen hour relay on the track, non-stop from dusk till dawn, really impacted me. Of course we cannot tragedy from striking us and those we love, but we can use our determination to overcome our fear of it.”
“I would like to encourage everyone to be part of RFL and show your sincere support by cheering on the cancer survivors. It is a time when people you know and people you don’t know team up to raise public awareness about cancer in the community,” said NCSM Vice President Claire Ratnasingham. Ms Ratnasingham also hopes to extend the event to Kuantan, and other towns in Malaysia next year.
For more information, please visit www.relayforlifemalaysia.com
Written by Amelia Ooi