Sharjah: UAE Relay for Life, a 24-hour walkathon to raise awareness and funds for fighting cancer, concluded at 4pm on Saturday at the athletics track at the American University of Sharjah.
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More than 2,000 “relayers”, who included people from all walks of life, took part in the inaugural event, organised by Friends of Cancer Patients (FoCP), the Sharjah-based non-profit organisation supporting cancer patients and their families.
The event was organised in conjunction with the American Cancer Society.
Joining the inaugural lap after launching the event on Friday was Shaikha Jawaher Bint Mohammad Al Qasimi, Ambassador of the International Union Against Cancer to the World Cancer Declaration and Royal Patron of FoCP.
The amount raised through the event is expected to be announced on Sunday.
Relay for Life was conceived in 1985 when colorectal surgeon Dr Gordon Klatt in the US successfully raised $27,000 (Dh99,170) for his local cancer charity.
Since then, the initiative has gone on to become the “largest fund-raising event for cancer in the world”. To date, Relay for Life has raised more than $5 billion (Dh18.3 billion) in support of cancer patients worldwide, with the event now taking place in 29 countries.
The Sharjah event, which began at 4pm on Friday, was the first edition of the relay to be held in the region.
The relayers were individuals and institutions taking part from 52 schools, six universities, eight partners, 37 government and private institutions, and 67 cancer survivors.
Besides the relay itself, 40 activities and events were held on the sidelines, which also ran round the clock.
At the survivors tent, cancer survivors shared their inspirational stories of overcoming the odds.
“I am glad that I had cancer — it was God’s way of letting me share a positive story with other people,” said Aalya Losloso, a Philippines national who participated in the event.
“My advice to those who have cancer is to try not to get stressed, as the more stressed you are the more the cancer cells will multiply. I am very fortunate to be working for DHL and everyone there has supported me, my colleagues and my management, and that helped me to overcome my cancer in a short period of time. I am now nine years cancer-free. Many people with cancer or who have loved ones with cancer now come to me for advice and I feel very blessed to be in a position to help them because of my personal experience.”
The survivors were honoured at the Relay for Life Luminaria event at 9pm on Friday. The activity saw candles lit in memory of loved ones who had been lost to cancer as well as to pay tributes to those who had survived it.
The ceremony temporarily halted the 24 hours of walking around the athletics track. Participants instead gathered to sit on the track to hear inspirational stories of cancer survival and a rendition of ‘Nessun Dorma’ by an opera singer.