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Tuesday, 28 October 2014
Page: 12233

Ms O'DWYER (Higgins) (13:31): Relay for Life was started in 1985 by US surgeon, Dr Gordy Klatt, who spent 24 hours circling a running track in Tacoma, Washington, raising over US$27,000 for cancer research—proving that just one person can make a difference. Since then, the event has become the largest fundraising event for cancer in the world, celebrated by more than four million people in over 20 countries.

In Australia, Relay for Life began in 1999 in Murrumbeena, in my electorate of Higgins, when my local community raced over $75,000 for the Cancer Council—a fantastic achievement. In 2014, Murrumbeena Relay for Life turned 16. It is the longest continuously-running Victorian relay. In addition, the Stonnington Relay for Life, held in Malvern, started last year and turned two this year.

From this local action, relays are now held in every Australian state and territory, with more than 134,000 participants raising over $24 million each year. Every dollar raised goes towards funding the Cancer Council's vital research, prevention and support programs. But apart from this incredible fundraising achievement, very importantly Relay for Life brings our community together to focus on our family members and friends who have been affected by cancer—to celebrate their courage, to remember those we have loved and lost and to celebrate those who have survived.

Relay for Life gives us hope. It acknowledges that cancer does not need to be a death sentence. Clinical knowledge about cancer is growing, treatments are improving and there is more support for people and their families. Together, this year's Relays for Life in my electorate raised over $120,000. I congratulate all of those involved.