The organising committee of Relay for Life Donegal 2014 certainly delivered on their promise to host an eventful and memorable 24 hour Relay. The 24 hour Relay for Life Donegal event which was held over the weekend of the 31/5/14 to 1/6/14 undoubtedly equalled if not exceeded expectations.
One of the many highlights of the weekend was Tina Moore’s head shave and the appearance of Majella O Donnell directly proceeding the head shave. According to Majella “When I heard about Tina’s head shave I wanted to come and offer my support to her on behalf of all cancer survivors”. Majella also acknowledged the tremendous work that Relay for Life Donegal do in assisting the Irish Cancer society provide vital services in Donegal. Directly after this very special moment 1000 balloons were released symbolising “1000 REASONS TO RELAY”, representing the 1000 people that get a cancer diagnosis each year in Donegal.
The opening ceremony got underway at 5:45pm with input from Robert O Connor, Charlie Collins MC and the fabulous Survivors choir. A thoughtful message from Daniel O Donnell, Patron of Relay for Life Donegal was viewed. At 6pm the Relay for Life Donegal 2014 24 hour fundraiser officially commenced when the survivors (Relay for Life Donegal VIP’s) performed the opening lap. The second lap was then performed by carers; recognising the importance and contribution of care givers to those impacted by a cancer diagnosis. The team parade followed whereby all participating teams proudly paraded behind their banner.
At least one member from each team then relayed continuously around the track for the 24 hours, symbolising their resilience to not give up the fight against cancer. All of the participating teams held fundraisers prior to participating at Relay for Life Donegal.
According to Robert O Connor, Chairperson of Relay for Life Donegal, “with the support, passion and relentless dedication of our Relay for Life Donegal teams and participants we have helped inform, educate and raise funds, both for vital research and for provision of vital cancer services and initiatives in Donegal. We are indebted to the people of Donegal who continue to support, many of whom are participating for the second or third year. We also were delighted to have teams take part this year for the first time”.
Ena Barrett & Celine Bradley, Head of Entertainment, delivered a fantastic line up. All ages and tastes were catered for; from a magician, to bands of all genres, tribute bands, quizzes, Zumba, etc. According to Ena and Celine, “many of the artists and entertainers who performed during the 24 hour Relay have assisted over one or both of the previous Relay for Life Donegal events. Each and every one of them were extremely eager to be part of the Relay for Life Donegal experience. All artists and entertainers gave up their time free of charge and greatly contributed in giving the event the character and atmosphere that Relay for Life Donegal has become known for”.
The Candle of Hope Ceremony was held on Saturday night. The moving ceremony allowed members of the public to dedicate a candle to someone they wished in celebration, remembrance or fight back. Year after year at dusk people line up around the track standing beside the candle they purchased to celebrate, remember or fight back.
On Sunday at 5:30 pm, as part of the closing ceremony, John Mc Cormack, CEO of the Irish Cancer Society addressed all in attendance by stating “he believed the battle against cancer would be lost or won in communities”. He emphasised and praised the amazing resilience and determination of the Donegal community. This was followed by a beautiful performance by the survivors choir, a closing address by Robert O Connor and a very moving survivors and caregivers celebration.
At this stage, approx 24 hours of Relaying had occurred, teams had regrouped to Relay around the track together and one of Relay for Life Donegal’s Superheroes, Hughie Gallagher, who’d be pedalling away his bike on a mount for the entire duration of the event, had his bike dismounted and to the applause of all in attendance, he cycled the track. According to Siobhan Diver, Marketing Manager of Relay for Life Donegal 2014, “Like Tina Moore’s head shave, Majella O Donnell’s visit, the balloon release and the luminaria ceremony – it was an extremely symbolic and powerful sight, which I and all those in attendance are enriched by as a result of being there and sharing those moments”.
Although the Relay for Life Donegal 2014 event had officially commenced 24 hours prior, for many the preparations had begun much, much earlier. According to Siobhan, “many individuals and businesses have been preparing for and anticipating the events of the weekend of the 31/5/14 to 1/6/14 for numerous weeks, months in some cases. It would be impossible to thank everyone individually and I hope not to offend anyone by making reference to the following. Survivors, carers, teams, sponsors, entertainers, volunteers, sound and stage crew and the media have contributed significantly in making the 24 hour Relay for Life Donegal event the success it was. Thank you to the ministers for the services delivered on Sunday morning. Thank you to all musicians and people involved in the services on Sunday morning. Many thanks to Highland Radio for their wonderful coverage of Sunday morning’s services. Many thanks also to Clive Wasson for his professionalism in capturing all Relay for Life Donegal events on camera. Many thanks also to the survivors choir who have put numerous hours into rehearsing for the event. Sincere thanks to Majella O Donnell for contributing to the event through her guest appearance. In addition thanks to Conal Gallen for his participation in our advert which was aired on Highland and his marvellous contribution to our Conference. Sincere thanks to Charlie Collins who has magnificently carried out the role of MC for both the Relay for Life Donegal 24 hour Relay and for the Relay for Life Donegal Cancer Conference held in April.
In addition Siobhan states that, “on behalf of the committee I would like to take this opportunity to thank Terry Mc Eniff of the Mount Errigal Hotel, Letterkenny for making the hotel available to the committee on numerous occasions to facilitate meetings and to thank Brian Mc Cracken, Letterkenny shopping Centre, for making the promotional lorry available to us. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all the individuals who assisted in endorsing Relay for Life Donegal as the wonderful charity it is”.
Date posted: June 9, 2014