Relay for Life organisers who have raised hundreds of thousands of Euro for cancer research and services, were honoured at a mayoral reception in the Irish National Heritage Park.
Mayor of Wexford, Cllr. George Lawlor said the civic honour was 'in recognition of the tremendous work of chairperson Gay Murphy and her team over the past four years'.
Last year alone, the 24-hour event at Páirc Charman raised €130,000 for the Irish Cancer Society, a figure which the Mayor described as 'an amazing achievement'.
It's not just about the money but also the spirit of support and kindredship that exists between the people who take part.
The Mayor paid tribute to Gay Murphy as the face and voice of the organisation who commands the respect and admiration of everyone.
'There is not a family in our community that has not been affected by cancer - some people have lost the battle and others have survived.
This is a celebration of your wonderful contribution to our community, your work in supporting survivors, remembering those who have died and raising funds for cancer services', he said.
Carmel Murphy of the Irish Cancer Society said: 'Thank you all for the wonderful work you have done for the Irish Cancer Society and in supporting each other as a community'.
'Relay for Life Wexford is not just a one-off annual event. It's a support group from which great friendships have grown'.
'It is a roaring success and you should all be very proud. A massive thanks to you all', she said, adding that without the support of Relay for Life, the ICS wouldn't be able to invest in vital cancer research and continue providing services to cancer sufferers.
Cancer survivor Yvonne Keane who was named as a 'Global Hero of Hope' earlier this year, has taken part in Relay for Life for the past four years.
'It gave me strength and positivity at a time when I didn't think I had any left. The work you do, your passion and drive is simply remarkable', she said.
Chairperson Gay Murphy recalled how Wexford Relay for Life started in the summer of 2016 with the three-fold aim of celebrating survivors, remembering those who have died and fighting back by raising awareness of cancer services and funds for the ICS.
'The success of Relay can be attributed to the people of Wexford who have a great way of coming together as a community to help and support those in need', she said..
Gay said her own family have been 'absolutely devastated' by cancer. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014. She walked the survivors' lap in Relay for Life in 2016 and 2017.
Little did she know that her mother would walk it with her in 2018 after she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and died just before Christmas last year.
Gay was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer the day after her mother's funeral and when she was in St. Vincent's Hospital for surgery in January, her younger sister was diagnosed with colo-rectal cancer and her eldest sister was diagnosed with breast cancer in June.'We must keep fighting back and we can do that by continuing to Relay in Wexford', she said.
'The Relay community is a fantastic support network for people going through cancer. It gives me hope to see so many people wearing the purple survivors' t-shirts every year. In every bad situation, there is always a positive and for me that has definitely been Relay for Life', said Gay, encouraging others to take part in the 2020 Relay in Páirc Charman on July 11 and 12.