Relay For Life Harrow raises between £50k to £90k for Cancer Research UK annually and has raised over £490,000 to date. Over the course of the year teams find many different ways to raise funds, from producing cooking books to hosting music nights or running quizzes. For new teams we aim to provide lots of help and support in running events so that raising monies before the event is not a daunting task.
The culmination for the years fundraising is the Relay For Life weekend. The Relay For Life weekend is a celebration for cancer survivors, their carers, team members and the general public. It is a celebration of fundraising, a celebration of community, and a celebration of life. During the weekend members of each team walk all day and all night to show solidarity with cancer sufferers in the battle they face every day. Cancer never sleeps, and neither do we.
The Relay For Life weekend starts on the Saturday with a special lap of honour for cancer survivors, who are then followed by their carers, and last but certainly not least a member from each team. During the lap of honour the survivors and carers are applauded and celebrated, for their triumph over adversity. From this moment at least one member of each team must remain on the track at all time, until the final lap on Sunday morning.
During the majority of the day teams then run stalls and games for members of the public to enjoy and to raise extra money. Live entertainment is provided by local organisations including music and dance groups for people to join in with or just enjoy watching or listening to. While on the track team members partake in fun novelty laps, in the past these have includes Christmas and Space Hopper laps.
In the early evening teams are invited to barbecue along the side of the track, while entertainment continues from the main stage. This is a more intimate time after the public have left; and it is important to spend time with friends and family.
During the mid evening the most defining ceremony of Relay For Life is performed, the Candle Of Hope Ceremony. The track is lined with around 400 bags containing candles, each one dedicated to someone and decorated in their honour. This provides time for people to reflect, remember loved ones who have passed away, and to be inspired by those people who have amazing stories and provide hope for a cure. The candles remain on the side of the track for the entire night to light the way for the team members who are walking; representing how precious yet delicate human life can be.
After the Candle Of Hope ceremony entertainment is provided for teams throughout the night, including such events as quizzes, star gazing and a silent disco as well as novelty pajama laps. During this time some members settle down into their tents (though sometimes only briefly), but a sense of solidarity exists across the site. It is at this point one really realises how friendships at Relay can be formed that last for many years: friendships that span cultural, generational and geographical restrictions.
The arena slowly wakens at sunrise to the smell of freshly cooked breakfast. This revitalises the participants and the mood becomes increasingly more jubilant over the morning. At mid morning we celebrate our achievements at the closing ceremony, after which all participants take part in the final lap.