30 Apr, 2012 12:00 AM
SOUTHERN Highlands residents pulled together on the weekend to ensure that the 2012 Relay for Life was a outstanding success.
The committee met its target of $200,000 raised for the Cancer Council thanks to everyone who participated on the day and others who donated prior.
Participants were blessed with sunny weather on Saturday and, while the rain made an appearance early on Sunday morning, it didn't dampen anyone's spirits.
The Southern Highlands Relay For Life Committee worked countless hours to ensure the day was a success and there were some very tired, but proud, people on Sunday afternoon. Chairwoman Judi O'Brien said the event was sensational and that there were some very emotional moments, particularly the lap of the oval that was done in silence.
"We're very grateful to the Southern Highlands community for participating on the weekend," she said.
"It really leaves you on a high because of how everyone has pulled together."
About 90 teams participated in the relay with about 1200 walkers.
There were an additional 300 people who came along on Saturday to enjoy the full day's entertainment on offer.
"Most of the teams had someone on the track for the full 24-hours," Ms O'Brien said.
"Everyone went to a lot of trouble to raise money on the day. People decorated their tents, sold food, held mini-raffles, that sort of thing. They were very creative and the whole thing looked fantastic.
"We had a teddy bear's picnic for the kids as well as other activities that the Cancer Council put on like a cartoon character race and a performance by THSPA which they loved."
Jane Harris was guest speaker at the event, speaking about her 10 year battle against cancer and how important it was for those with the disease to maintain a positive outlook.
There was also the traditional Hope Ceremony at dusk along with a performance by the combined school choir, which Ms O'Brien said was very moving.
"People buy bags and write messages to those they've lost to cancer and put a candle in it and we line the track with these," she said.
"The school children did a song with all the kids with candles holding hands.
This was followed by a lap of the oval in silence and, let me tell you, there was hardly a dry eye in the park."
The Cancer Council apportions a large amount of the money raised to research with the remaining money used to help provide the services in the Southern Highlands.
These include counselling services, the in-home help service, the Information Centre and the bus that takes patients up to Macarthur when they can't get treatment locally.
Between Relay Day, Daffodil Day and the other donation events in the Southern Region, the Cancer Council raises about $2.4 million each year.
Of that, about $2.3 million was used in the southern region, including the Illawarra and Shoalhaven.
"We punch well above our weight with our Relay at $200,000 with a population of 45,000," Ms O'Brien said.
"I think the only Relay in the Southern Region that beats us is the Illawarra which, of course has a much bigger population."
Printed Southern Highlands News 30/4/2012