Peter O'Neill from Nebridge, centre, with Michael Donohue and Teresa Harrison at last year's Relay For Life
A Newbrige man whose wife lost her battle with cancer, and who himself is a survivor of the disease, along with his three brothers is urging people to take part in this year’s virtual Relay for Life.
Relay for Life committee member, Peter O’Neill said: “Even though we will not be together physically this year, honouring Relay in this way will be an occasion to remember. Together we will celebrate our survivors, remember those we have lost and fight back with greater resolve.”
This August 8 and 9, the Relay for Life that was due to take part at Naas Racecourse will be live streamed virtually, with the public encouraged to set up their own relay teams at home.
Mr O’Neill said: “We are very lucky that people support Relay for Life, we have raised half a million euros over the last number of years. The Irish Cancer Society can only cover the services with the money that it gets in, only about 2% comes from the Government. One of the most important aspects of the Relay for Life is the candle lighting ceremony. The candle bag is dedicated to a person with fabulous poems, sayings and pictures. Every year they are laid out, there are stands and each candle bag gets sand put onto it. The candles are laid out on rows, and anyone who buys a candle bag can see their candle bag, with their candle burning.”
He said: “I can remember times at the Curragh, with 8,000 people plus. When a team registers for Relay, they could be two to three months fundraising — each of them raising funds in their own village or their own town, concerts being put on and raffles taking place, and we would get corporate donations too. This year there is no emphasis on fundraising. Whatever we get in, it is a bonus, the whole thing is to honour Relay, and if funds come in, then great. We are asking the teams in their own town, village, or wherever, to light their candle bags at 9.15pm, our ceremony will be going live from Naas Racecourse.”
Mr O’Neill says that while the Relay for Life this year may not raise as many funds as other years, they will come back bigger than ever next year.
He said: “Whatever money we make goes to the Irish Cancer Society. The money goes to services such as the night nurse service, they come into a person’s home, and care for the person who is terminally ill. Also people drive patients to hospital for chemotherapy treatment and drive them back again. Money goes to a lot of services, including research.”
Mr O’Neill’s wife Vera passed away from cancer in 2007, and Mr O’Neill was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2011. Also his three brothers, Joe, Dermot and Larry, were diagnosed with prostate cancer and have survived it. His father and his father-in-law also died from lung cancer.
He said: “I don’t know of a single family who have not been touched by cancer.”
While the focus is not on fundraising this year, any donations would be welcome to ensure the running of vital cancer treatment services.
Contact Irish Cancer Society, or Relay for Life Kildare if you wish to contribute to the virtual event this August.