WIMMERA residents joined together to remember, honour and fight for loved ones with cancer at the 12th annual Horsham and District Relay for Life at the weekend.
More than 1500 people of all ages joined a record 54 teams to walk hundreds of laps around Coughlin Park in Horsham to raise money for cancer research.
The relay began at 5.40pm on Friday and finished at noon on Saturday.
Hundreds of cancer survivors and carers walked the first lap.
Relay for Life committee chairman Kingsley Dalgleish said it was a year of records.
“The numbers were fantastic. We had a record number of teams and a record amount raised,” he said.
The relay raised $157,212.90 for cancer research.
“We also had 23 new teams this year,” Mr Dalgleish said.
“It was a sensational event and to see the sea of purple around Coughlin Park was fantastic.
“You could feel the emotion of the carers and survivors as they walked the first lap and then when everyone joined it. It was a huge amount of people filling the park.”
Opening and closing ceremonies signalled the start and the end of the relay.
Two St Brigid’s College students had their poems read at the ceremonies.
The Relay for Life committee invited Wimmera students to enter poems based on the theme ‘Why I Relay’.
Horsham’s Ashley Hobbs and Anna Bush won the competition.
Mr Dalgleish said it was encouraging to see the relay gaining more support each year.
“There was such a diversity of people,” he said.
“The huge numbers kept up all through the night. Even at 3am, 4am and 5am there were large numbers of people on the track.
“There were 54 teams here and one person had to walk at all times, but there would have been double that on the track at all times.”
At 9pm Friday, Coughlin Park was plunged into darkness for a candle-lighting ceremony.
Candles were lit around the track in honour of those who had died from cancer or in hope for those who had survived.
During the ceremony, teams observed a minute’s silence.
Mr Dalgleish said across Australia, every 24 hours, 78 people heard the words ‘you have cancer’.
“While the event is growing, it is disappointing that cancer still exists,” he said. “We will keep doing this and raising money because, unfortunately, more people will be affected by cancer in the future.
“There is a real possibility that every family will be affected somehow.
“We need to beat it.”
Mr Dalgleish thanked the committee and the community for their support.
Member for Lowan Hugh Delahunty said it was an amazing event.
“It is good to see people getting active and it’s also good to see the camaraderie between business and groups,” he said.
“It makes me very proud to see good things like this.”