Armidale Relay for Life 2019

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Joanna Dolan is one member of our local passionate Relay For Life committee, and she’s keen to share more details in the lead up to this year’s event on February 23 – 24. 

Committed to raising funds for cancer research and for remembering and honouring those who have lived with the disease, scores of people will attend the Relay For Life at Armidale Showground – and you, too, can get involved!

What’s your role with the Armidale Relay for Life committee?

Each Relay For Life event in Australia is organised, on behalf of Cancer Council, by a local volunteer committee. I’ve participated in Armidale Relay For Life for many years now and have been a member of the committee for about six years. Currently my role is, in part, to assist with the mission elements of the event; but taking a broader view, we are a team and work together to organise an event that will generate a lot of local support and participation. It’s a massive job to draw it all together; without the committee’s dedication, it would be tough going. They are all amazing!

What’s the history of the event locally?

Armidale Relay has been running biennially for over 20 years now. Most of the Relays have been 24-hour events (as is this year’s), but a few were shortened to 18 hours. Possibly the most memorable Armidale Relay was in 2010, when a huge storm struck. There were 83 tents set up at the start of the event, and by 5am on the Sunday morning, only one was left standing. But, having said that, we Relay rain, hail or shine! 

Relay For Life is an event that provides the community with an opportunity to recognise and celebrate those who have overcome cancer or are undergoing treatment, as well as those who care for them along the way. As we’ve noted already, most people have been touched by cancer in some way, so this is an opportunity to celebrate not only those lost to cancer, but those who have been affected in some way by cancer.

Most people have a cancer experience to share. What encouraged your involvement with the Relay For Life?

You’re right; most people have encountered cancer in some way over the years. For example, our longest serving committee member, Grant Clark, started helping Armidale Relay after his mother passed away as a result of cancer. Grant has been an amazing advocate over the years. 

My participation in Armidale Relay was originally based on friends’ and acquaintances’ experiences – both as carers and as people diagnosed with some form of cancer. My involvement become more personal in 2010 when my eldest daughter, Kate, died of melanoma. That inspired me to become more involved and help in any way I could. It doesn’t matter what form of cancer; we need to raise the level of awareness, support and research funding for every type, and Relay is a great way of doing this.

When and where will the Relay take place this year?

Armidale Relay For Life will be held over the weekend of 23 – 24 February at the Armidale Showground, starting at 10am on the Saturday.

What is required of relay participants, before and including the 24-hour event?

There’s not really that much required of participants: just register either as a member of a team or individually (or ask one of the committee members to put you in touch with a team), then go out and start raising funds for your team – trivia nights, morning teas, guessing competitions … and then show up on the day, participate in the activities – and walk a few laps, of course! 

What facilities are available for relay entrants on the day?

As usual, there will be a lot happening over the course of the Relay. Events include the more formal RFL activities, such as the opening and closing ceremonies, the Survivors and Carers Lap and the Candlelight Ceremony. As usual, we’ll have lots of live music from many local bands and musicians, there’ll be head shaving as a fundraising activity (how much would you pay to see your best friend have all their hair shaved off for cancer?), a pet photo booth, a box car rally and a second-hand clothes market, and life-size games (such as Jenga) to name a few. 

And, we are still working on the logistics involved in five or six more activities. Some of the teams will also have activities planned. It’s always action-packed from the start to the finish! 

As far as amenities go, the Showground’s rest rooms will be available to participants and, of course, all teams will be able to set up “camp” around the track.

Why would you encourage everyone to get involved with this event?

Relay For Life is an event that can draw the entire community together for a common cause. As cancer is something that, in some way, affects almost every member of our community, participating in Relay For Life is a way of giving AND receiving support. But, even more than that, it is an event that raises funds to support those in our own community who are affected by cancer – a win-win situation!

What items should Relay participants bring with them on the day?

The most important thing to bring on the day is a sense of fun. On a more practical level, we’ll have plenty of water and sunscreen available, but it’s always a good idea to bring your own as well. Make sure you have suitable walking shoes, clothing that will protect you from the sun and (possibly) something to keep the cooler night temperatures at bay. 

There will be plenty of food stalls, so everyone will be well-catered for! Most teams set up a marquee or tent for shelter when not out on the track – chairs and sleeping bags or swags are also useful. Don’t forget to bring dollars to contribute to teams’ fundraising efforts over the course of the event, such as Miss Relay and other fun activities.

How can we register for the Relay/find out more info?

All the information about Armidale Relay For Life, including how to register or donate, can be found at

Thanks Jo.

Interview: Jo Robinson.

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