The weather may have put a stop to the family fun day and other events planned for Sunday, but nevertheless the first ever Relay for Life Kildare was a huge fundraising success, and all the teams involved managed to continue walking for the full 24 hours.
With all funds raised going to the Irish Cancer Society, there were 21 teams entered from all over the county, committed to raising funds and walking in relay at the course in Sarsfields GAA club for a full 24 hours.
The event kicked off on Saturday 14 September at 5pm, with the first lap done by cancer survivors. Wearing their purple T-shirts and huge smiles, the 50-plus survivors ranged in age from young children to elderly, clearly demonstrating that many people live happy and healthy lives during and after cancer treatment.
One of the biggest successes was the Candle of Hope ceremony. The teams had been selling candle bags throughout the county over the past few months, and Newbridge Scouts had the difficult task of bringing out more than 2,300 bags to line the walking course at Sarsfields GAA, Newbridge.
As darkness fell, the youngest cancer survivor present, Cormac Doyle from Suncroft,, lit the first candle and then the teams got busy seeing to it that the rest of the candles were lit over the next few minutes, and kept alight through the night.
“It was poignant and sad ,as well as hopeful and uplifting,” explained the Kildare Relay for Life Chairperson, Leann Keogh.
“The number of candles and the messages on the bags demonstrated the huge numbers of people hit either directly or indirectly by cancer. With one person in three in County Kildare hit by cancer, demand for services and treatment is growing,” she added.
Unfortunately, gale force winds blew away some of the tented village, putting a stop to the plans for Sunday.
However, the spirit of Relay for Life prevailed and in rain and wind, the walkers continued until the end.
The committee planted a tree at Sarsfields to mark the first Relay for Life Kildare, and already they are planning next year’s event.
According to Leann, “I think we’ll try for an indoor venue next year.”