True symbols of determination and courage for all to see, local cancer survivors Deb Rielly and 12 year-old Dakota Rigby, helped lead an emotional opening lap around the State Coal Mine during Wonthaggi’s Relay for Life awareness event last Saturday. The event attracted a huge crowd, with organisers keen to see it turn into an annual fixture on the local calendar.
THE return of Relay for Life to Wonthaggi has been nothing short of a resounding success.
Donations are still flowing in, but the committee behind the event confirmed that as of yesterday the tally sits at over $30,000 – every cent of which will go to Cancer Council Victoria.
More than 320 people took part in the 18-hour relay around Wonthaggi’s State Coal Mine, cheered on by family, friends and locals who simply dropped by to show their support.
The gathering began with a highly emotional Survivors and Carers Lap at 4pm, led by cancer survivors and event patrons Debbie Rielly, Dakota Rigby and Caroline Donohue.
Moments after the sun set, the park was illuminated by hundreds of flickering candles as participants solemnly remembered loved ones who’d lost their battle with cancer.
Wonthaggi Relay for Life chair-manager, Simone Short, said the committee was “blown away” by the community’s support.
“To raise over $30,000 in the first year back was a really unbelievable achievement,” she said
“We’ve already had a lot of people sign up for next year and I’d love to see it become a significant annual event here in Wonthaggi.”
“Both the opening and candlelight ceremony were very emotional experiences, and it was really moving to see every single team still walking around the track in the early hours of the morning despite how tired everyone was.
“Having the ‘world first’ underground lap was also really exciting, with over 100 people taking part in the three tours on Saturday night.
“I’d like to thank the amazing committee who put in endless hours over the past six months to make the event the success it was, our wonderful patrons, Deb, Dakota and Caroline, who inspired all of us and truly made the event special, the State Coal Mine for supporting the event every inch of the way, our major sponsors Mitre10, Bendigo Bank and Bass Coast Shire Council, and of course, the incredible Wonthaggi community because without them, the event simply wouldn’t have happened!
“I’m really looking forward to seeing everyone there again next year.”