Relay for Life (RFL) is a worldwide movement that aims to spread the key messages about cancer as well as raise much needed funds for cancer services. It started in USA, under the American Cancer Society
, and is now held in over 20 countries around the world with more than 4 million participants. It is a gathering to celebrate with the cancer survivors, to remember those who have lost their lives to the disease and to honour people who have fought or are fighting cancer and also to spread the message that cancer can be fought through early detection and living healthy lifestyles.
The National Cancer Society of Malaysia (NCSM)
initiated the Relay in Malaysia, in 2005. Aside from Kuala Lumpur
now also hold Relays. This year in Kuala Lumpur, RFL was held on 20th and 21st September 2014. Now into its eighth year, NCSM’s main fundraising event took place at the Dataran Petaling Jaya, Selangor. Last year, more than 3,000 people participated in RFL nationwide. This year, the event attracted more than 4,500 people where some of which were from Taylor's Education Group
represented by staff and students of Taylor’s Hostel Management (THM)
, Taylor's University
and Taylor’s College Subang Jaya (TCSJ)
. Funds raised are to support NCSM’s community outreach programmes in rural areas where it provides free screening services and cancer education.
RFL is an overnight event which starts at 6pm with the ‘Survivors Lap’, where cancer survivors at the event will walk the first lap around the track celebrating victory over cancer while cheered on by the other participants who line the track. They were led by several childhood cancer survivors who were donned in colourful superhero attire. In fact, many camped out overnight and took turns walking or running around the track at the venue throughout the night for 16 hours. The significance of this event was to show support while keeping in mind those who have fought and are still fighting cancer.
At dusk, the venue transformed into a carnival with tons of fun entertainment, games and food stalls that kept everyone engaged. One of the highlights of the event was when about 50 courageous participants shaved off their heads and donated their hair (minimum length of 8 inches) at the Locks of Hope booth to make wigs and show support for those who are battling cancer. The ‘Luminaria’ ceremony begins. Hundreds of paper bags containing sand and candles were lit by participants, lined along the track throughout the night to remember loved ones lost to cancer and honour those battling the disease. RFL events also recognize and celebrate caregivers, who give time, love, and support to their friends, family, neighbors, and coworkers facing cancer.
“The thousands of participants benefited not just by showing their support for a worthy cause but they get to do it in a fun way and enjoy the carnival-like atmosphere that distinguishes all RFL events,” said Claire Ratnasingham, Co-Chairperson of RFL Malaysia and Vice President of NCSM, who launched the event. “It is a day where people meet old friends and make new acquaintances and enjoy the day by taking part in the many activities planned.” It was a night of solidarity, fun and festivity, all for a good cause. It was quite evident from the faces of the participants that hope ruled the Relay and, hope indeed triumphed through to the end of a rainy day.
Written by Amelia Ooi