THE community has raised $50,000 and counting from this year’s Macleay Valley Relay for Life event.
About 300 people took part in the fundraiser on Saturday starting at 2pm and finishing at 9am on Sunday at the Kemspey Showground.
The relay is a chance to recognise and celebrate those who have overcome cancer or are undergoing treatment as well as their carers. It also provides an opportunity to celebrate the memory of loved ones lost to cancer.
Macleay Valley Relay for Life volunteer committee chairperson Jenny Gee and her husband Mick have been involved with the event since its inception in the Macleay. The couple, along with a handful of other volunteers, worked tirelessly to make this year’s event a success.
“I started with the event when it was first held out at South West Rocks after my mum passed away,” Jenny said.
“When it came to Kempsey, Mick and I got on the committee.
“We enjoy it because you get to see that there are some good people in Kempsey willing to support an event and it’s just nice to be involved in something positive in our area.”
Mr Gee said it was an amazing feat for a community so often plagued by bad news.
“Despite Kempsey not being economically and socially brilliant and often being tarred by bad publicity at times we seem to be a big contributor to this event,” he said.
“So many events in Kempsey get lost to either not having enough funding or support so it just goes to show what can actually happen when an event is well supported.”
Highlights of the event included the Miss Relay pageant which sees male participants dress in drag while fundraising for the event and the Candlelight Ceremony of Hope. The ceremony takes place at dusk and beautiful messages on candle bags illuminate the way as friends and family walk a lap while sharing their affirmation of hope and remembrance.
“Miss Relay is always a funny part of the event some of the men were pretty creative this year with their outfits and that event alone raised $7000,” Jenny said.
“The Candlelight Ceremony is always a special part of Relay. This time we took time out to remember Paul Fleming who was the sponsorship coordinator for the Kempsey relay and passed away in 2015.”
Cancer Council NSW Mid-North Coast community relations co-ordinator Pippa Tablone said the event was a fine example of what small communities can achieve.
“It was an outstanding event that saw every corner of the community show their support, either by participating, donating goods or money or entertaining,” she said.
“It was a real testament to what a strong community exists in the Macleay Valley and the hard work done by the organising committee; we would like to thank them too, in particular Jenny Gee who has driven this event. Cancer Council NSW thanks you all – together we will beat cancer.”
Mrs Gee thanked everyone who participated and to all of the local businesses who generously sponsored this year’s event.