Wexford Relay for Life took place online last weekend but there was nothing virtual about the money raised, with more than €109,500 collected for the Irish Cancer Society, surpassing all the expectations of the organisers.
The 24-hour relay couldn't take place in Pairc Charman due to Covid-19 and the committee made the tough decision to cancel. To keep the spirit of the event alive and raise vital funds for Cancer Society services, it was decided to organise a Virtual Relay instead to minimise contact and keep people safe with an original fundraising target set at €55,000.
The figure reached €109,500 and counting over the weekend, an achievement described as 'totally amazing' by the Relay for Life chairperson Gay Murphy, who thanked 'each and every one of the fantastic team for their effort and hard work in putting it together.'
'It's unbelievable. That a non-event would be so successful shows just how important Relay is to the people of Wexford', she said. It brings the total amount raised by Relay in Wexford to over €400,000 in the space of five years.
Team fundraising and candle bag sales were moved online this year and supporters were asked to relay at home, in their garden, housing estate or street. People embraced the challenge with gusto, with numerous individual and family events taking place all over the area and group relays in The Grove, Ashfield Drive, Belvedere Grove, Bishopswater, Kennedy Park and Antelope Road, where a 24-hour event was organised.
The participants ranged in age from a 92-year old member of 'the Fit, the Fat and the Funny' team to an 11-day old baby carried around on a lap by the 'Ferocious Foleys'.
According to Gay, participating teams came up with brilliant fundraising ideas, holding drive-in bingo, charity walks, sewing and selling face masks, car boot markets and socially distanced coffee mornings.
Last Saturday, Relay for Life broadcast a three-hour Virtual Relay live on Facebook from 7p.m. to 10pm , with MC Catherine Walsh and featuring local singers and musicians who were due to perform at Relay this year.
A special part of Relay for Life is the Candle of Hope Ceremony which takes place as darkness falls, to honour people who are on a cancer journey and remember those who have died, with both sides of the Páirc Charman track usually lined with commemorative candle bags.
This year , the ceremony was called 'Hope from Home' and it took place on Saturday night with Gay lighting the first candle, encouraging others to light candles at home while observing a few moments of silence.
'It was a huge decision to go online back at the start of the lockdown', said Gay. 'Our priority was not only to keep our survivors, teams, supporters and ourselves safe but also to keep this fantastic Relay community alive and kicking here in Wexford and it's fair to say I think we succeeded.'
'She added that the organising committee were 'blown away' by everyone's generosity.
New Ross Standard