‘Triumphant return’ of relay after five years

Excited to announce the return of the Dunedin Relay for Life  on April 20 at Forsyth Barr Stadium...
Excited to announce the return of the Dunedin Relay for Life on April 20 at Forsyth Barr Stadium are (from left) Cancer Society community co-ordinator Pauline Campbell, society community manager Jo Arthur, society community support services Kathy Clarke, Relay for Life Dunedin ambassador Tamsyn Hayes, relay logistics Tony McLellan, and (at front) relay entertainment director Kelvin Cummings. PHOTO: BRENDA HARWOOD
The Dunedin Relay for Life is back.

The Cancer Society is putting out the call for teams to assemble ahead of its giant community celebration, remembrance and fundraising event.

It will return to the Forsyth Barr Stadium on April 20.

Society events specialist Donna Milne was thrilled about the relay’s ‘‘triumphant return’’.

It had been on a five-year hiatus because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Dunedin had ‘‘eagerly awaited’’ the return of the iconic community event.

It was even more exciting to be under the roof of the stadium for the first time since 2016.

‘‘With no government funding, our local community plays a pivotal role in sustaining this vital cause,’’ Ms Milne said.

‘‘Relay for Life is not just an event, it’s a beacon of hope.’’

Working alongside society staff to ‘‘create the magic’’ of the event is a dedicated volunteer committee.

Some of them have been involved in the relay for many years.

Helping to highlight the importance of the relay for people living with cancer and their families is relay ambassador Tamsyn Hayes, whose own cancer journey informs her commitment to the cause.

The Dunedin policewoman is undergoing treatment for stage 3, grade 3, triple negative breast cancer, and is keen to raise awareness as a younger person living with cancer.

‘‘It is easy to think that cancer doesn’t happen to fit, young, health people, but it does.’’

Although they felt very lucky to have the support of a strong network of friends and family, it had been a tough couple of years for Ms Hayes, husband Glen McSkimming and daughter Anja McSkimming, 8. The couple’s second daughter, Aroha, died during birth in 2021.

‘‘Since I have been ambassador for relay, I have had the chance to experience some new things - such as going along to a Look Good Feel Better event.

‘‘I found it great to meet people and have a laugh - it is a totally new world to me.’’

She will have an important role to play in the relay this year, including helping to promote the event, leading the first lap of the 12-hour event on April 20, and sharing her story in the candlelight ceremony.

Donating their time to keep the mood upbeat as they walk their circuits around the track will be a group of local musicians, brought together by popular entertainer Kelvin Cummings.

‘‘It’s awesome that we finally have the opportunity to unite together again in the fight against cancer,’’ Mr Cummings said.

‘‘I’m blown away by the overwhelmingly positive response from our music community.

‘‘And I highly recommend getting registered for Relay for Life Dunedin, as you’re going to have 12 hours of absolutely fantastic entertainment.’’

Breakfast show radio hosts Damian Newell and Hannah Wilkins, from media partner The Breeze, will share the MC duties with Mr Cummings during the event.

The funds raised during the relay will help the Cancer Society to provide crucial accommodation and transport to cancer patients and their families, contribute to ground-breaking cancer research, and offer essential practical and emotional support services to those affected by cancer.

‘‘Everyone and anyone can get involved, so rally your friends, whānau, classmates and workmates and join your community in the fight against cancer,’’ Ms Milne said.

Relay for Life will take place from 10am-10pm on Saturday, April 20, at Forsyth Barr Stadium.

It has an ambitious fundraising target of $150,000.

There are 75 sites available for teams, so get in quick.

• For more information and to register, visit relayforlife.org.nz/o/dunedin-relay

BRENDA.HARWOOD @thestar.co.nz