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Otago out in force for Relay

Tuesday, 11 April 2017 8:55pm

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Full of enthusiasm … Members of the Health Sciences staff team (back row, from left) Jo Oranje, Jo Fitzgibbons, and Nicola Hoodless; and (front row, from left) Beth Stephenson, Andrea Howard, and KC Worden. Photos: Sharron Bennett.

The threat of rain did nothing to dampen the spirits of the 54 teams – nearly 1,000 participants – that took part in this year’s Relay for Life on Friday night. Collectively they raised nearly $99,000 for the Cancer Society with that tally still rising.

The relay began at 6pm on Friday and continued through the night until 6am Saturday.

The event kicked off with a remembrance opening ceremony held on a stage across the Leith from the Clocktower.

After a survivors’ lap was completed, teams picked up their batons and made their way along the route which took them past the Clocktower building, across the Leith on the St David footbridge, past the St David’s Café and Science buildings, and back through the Archway.

Fourth-year Public Health student Georgia Mayer, CancerCore student relay organiser, said she is “thrilled” with the support shown by students and staff from both the University and Otago Polytechnic.

“Cancer has an impact on so many people’s lives, including many students and staff here in Dunedin.

“It’s great to see so many of them joining together to celebrate and remember our friends and family who have had a cancer diagnosis. For us, it’s even more special given that Otago is the only student run Relay for Life in New Zealand,” she said.

Health Sciences Admissions Officer Nicola Hoodless, who was part of a staff team representing the Division of Health Sciences, said the relay was a “fantastic” opportunity for staff to join in with students for a good cause: “It was loads of fun – really superb. There’s a great atmosphere with a poignancy about it as well.”

Participation was down slightly from previous relays held at the University. However, revenue increased over years past.

Funds raised will be used to provide support and care for those living with cancer, and to help support cancer research and health promotion activities throughout the region.

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Cumberland College residents Oliver Lewis, Luke Barker, Alisa Wynne, and Tim Richardson are all smiles after shaving their heads just hours before the start of Friday’s relay. Collectively, the college raised almost $8500 by combining their Relay for Life and Shave for the Cure fundraising efforts.

Colleges get creative with fundraising

University of Otago residential colleges were well represented in the overnight relay.

Senior Residential Assistant Luke Barker says Cumberland College students maximised their Relay for Life fundraising efforts by also organising a Shave for the Cure event on the same day.

“Effectively we combined the two events as a way of raising the most money for Cancer Society as we can. We found in the past that, because the events had such a close cross over, the shave would get all the attention and the relay would get lots of numbers but minimal money raised,” he said.

In the hours before Friday night’s relay, twelve Cumberland residents – five women and seven men – shaved their heads in front of an enthusiastic crowd.

Residents crowded into the college’s dining area and eagerly bid to be the ones to shave heads, trim beards, or rip wax strips off the volunteers.

When all was said and done, over 250cm of hair lay on the ground and students had succeeded in raising $8450 – well above the goal they’d set for themselves.

Residential Assistant Aliana Corlett, who helped organise the initiative, says participating in events like Shave for the Cure and Relay for Life is an important part of the residential college experience.

"I decided to take charge of organising these events for the college this year because I have seen the impact they have had in residential life in previous years," she says.

"These are meaningful events where our residents get to share vulnerable stories about how cancer has changed the course of their lives and those they care about. It is a unique gathering during which people are both brought to tears and to laughter."

More photos from Relay for Life and the Cumberland College Shave for a Cure event:

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Prepped and ready to go … Grace George and Kendall Airey (pictured with Aliana Corlett, middle) both donated their hair to make wigs for those who have lost their hair in treatment.

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Residents Cameron Mills and Aliana Corlett had a little fun giving Kendall Airey and Grace George a few new hair dos before finishing the shave properly.

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Back row (from left): Shiqian Garner, Elliot Sibbles, Oliver Lewis, Finn Shaw, Luke Barker, Sam George, and Ryan Hartman. Front row: Grace George, Kendall Airey, Saskia Klinkenberg, Alisa Wynne, Suzanne Musgrave.

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Chancellor John Ward took a break from walking to pose for a photo with inflatable giraffe-wearing Kirsty Gemmell.

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Surveying student Chris Jermy took a turn doing laps with a surveyor’s measuring wheel as he made his way around the circuit.

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Many participants decorated bags in memory of friends and family affected by cancer..

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A team poses in a picture frame during the Relay for Life.

Do you have a cancer story to share?

The Cancer Society is looking for participants for this year’s “We Can” video, in which it talks about what it does and the need to raise funds.

Do you have a cancer story you feel comfortable sharing? Have you lived with cancer or had a loved one impacted?

If you are willing to share your story, contact Chris Green, Cancer Society of New Zealand Marketing and Communications Manager, Ph 479 6780 or 021 340 563, Email: Chris.Green@cansoc.org.nz