Sutherland Shire Relay for Life in full stride for 20th anniversary

20th anniversary: Mark Speakman, Rod Coy and Steve Simpson launch the Sutherland Shire Relay for Life at Don Lucas Reserve, Wanda.
20th anniversary: Mark Speakman, Rod Coy and Steve Simpson launch the Sutherland Shire Relay for Life at Don Lucas Reserve, Wanda.

Sutherland Shire Relay for Life will be back in full stride on the first weekend in May after being forced into the virtual realm by COVID-19 last year.

This is the 20th anniversary of the shire's biggest community event, in which thousands join together over 24 hours to remember loved ones and fight the scourge of cancer.

Some innovative changes were announced at the launch by chairman Rod Coy, Cronulla MP and Attorney General Mark Speakman and Sutherland Shire mayor Steve Simpson.

While the opening and closing, along with the moving Candlelight Ceremony plus birthday party, will be held at Don Lucas Reserve, Wanda, teams and individual participants will be able to choose where they walk.

Research benefit: The conclusion of the 2019 Relay for Life at which $500,000 was raised. Picture: John Veage

Research benefit: The conclusion of the 2019 Relay for Life at which $500,000 was raised. Picture: John Veage

They might base themselves at Como Pleasure Grounds, Parc Menai, Shelly Beach Cronulla, a workplace, school, gym or home.

Participants are being challenged to walk 20,000 steps - 1000 for every year of the event.

The change has been driven by COVID safety - reducing the time large numbers are at Wanda - but the novelty adds appeal.

Another important change this year is that participants need to register at shirerelay.com.au for $30 (includes entry ticket to the birthday celebration, tables of 10).

There will be no camping due to COVID regulations.

Official events at Don Lucas Reserve will be:

  • Opening ceremony and Survivors and Carers Walk, 9am Saturday.
  • Candlelight Ceremony and 20th Birthday Party, 4.30pm - 10pm Saturday.
  • Closing Ceremony 9am Sunday.

The Saturday night gathering will feature the Hot Potato Band, Steve Hart and the All Stars and Queen Forever tribute band.

Relay for Life in Don Lucas Reserve. Picture: supplied

Relay for Life in Don Lucas Reserve. Picture: supplied

The 2019 event raised $500,000 for cancer research, and this year's goal if $350,000.

Mr Coy said, in 20 years, the event had raised more than $7 million, which had funded about 70 research grants, but it was about much more than money.

"This is a chance to remember people, to walk for someone, to be part of a group where we care about each other.

"There's no better way to teach kids about community than to let them experience Relay."

Mr Speakman said, "It's great that Relay for Life can keep re-inventing itself. It's a bit like the Kylie Minogue or Madonna of the shire".

Cr Simpson, whose son Adam died after a long battle with cancer, said "Relay allows people who have either got family or friends with cancer and who feel useless and hopeless to do something that really makes a difference".

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