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Wednesday, 25 June 2003
Page: 17571

Mr FARMER (9:49 AM) —Last Wednesday, 11 June, I had the pleasure of attending the Macarthur Relay for Life cheque presentation at Campbelltown Hospital. The Macarthur Relay for Life was the first event to involve sponsored individuals walking, running or in some cases dragging themselves around an athletic oval to raise much needed funds for cancer research. In Macarthur last year we raised over $100,000. Every dollar raised goes towards cancer research which not only improves the quality of life of cancer sufferers but also helps to save lives. On Wednesday, the Cancer Council presented a cheque totalling $40,000 to the Macarthur Relay for Life committee. The money will be held in trust at Campbelltown Hospital to assist in the improvement of cancer services for the people of Macarthur. The Campbelltown Cancer Therapy Centre opened just 3½ months ago and since then has treated over 770 people.

Relay for Life is an overnight team event. Last year Macarthur had 39 teams registered, which amounted to 625 participants. The team members took turns at running and walking for a period of 24 hours. We had teams from all parts of the community participating, including Macarthur Ulysses, Campbelltown Line Dancers, the Nasho's, Plumbers of Macarthur, St Helens Park School and the All-nighters just to name a few. Relay for Life is an opportunity for all of us to celebrate and remember those who have been affected by cancer and also celebrate cancer survivors. Survivors are honoured at the beginning of the Relay for Life by participating in a ceremonial first lap of honour where other participants cheer them and their carers during the survivors walk. This year Macarthur had 31 survivors walk, along with 27 carers.

Later in the evening, on dusk, a candlelight ceremony was held where messages were written to loved ones on paper bags. These bags then had a candle placed in them. I cannot properly describe the flood of emotions from all the participants at dusk when the bags, glowing from the candles inside them, combined with a minute's silence, were then followed by some beautiful music. All of us know someone who has been affected by cancer.

Relay for Life started in 1985 when one man, Dr Gordy Klat, put on his jogging gear and went to his local oval after hearing news that a good friend had succumbed to cancer. As a result of walking and running for 24 hours nonstop he managed to raise $US27,000 for the American Cancer Society. In 2002 it was estimated that 45,000 people would participate nationwide.

This year's Macarthur Relay for Life will be held on 18 and 19 October at Campbelltown Sports Stadium. The Macarthur Relay for Life committee has already been working hard to ensure this year is an even greater event with even greater success. Chili's restaurants are committed to being the major sponsors. It is important that events such as these are given as much support as is possible.