IT IS the widespread impact of cancer that motivates the Wimmera to walk for a cause.
The Horsham and District Relay For Life committee hopes this year's 17th edition of the relay will pass the $2 million mark in fundraising.
The milestone is one that chairmanager Kingsley Dalgleish believes highlights the connection Wimmera people have in the fight to defeat the insidious disease.
But, the connection does not end at Relay For Life. Mr Dalgleish said Wimmera Against Cancer in Kids, Daffodil Day and fundraising efforts to see the Wimmera Cancer Centre come to fruition were other examples that demonstrated the community's determination to do their part in the fight to cure cancer.
"Unfortunately, there are too many members of our community who have been affected by cancer, either having to deal with the disease directly or as a carer, or through seeing a friend or colleague deal with the disease," he said.
"The new cancer centre is a wonderful asset for our community and importantly, it allows those undergoing treatment to be able to receive this in Horsham without necessarily having to travel to other regions."
Mr Dalgleish said the fundraising would not stop until a cure for cancer was found.
Each year, the money from the Horsham and District Relay For Life will help fund research programs and services for cancer patients and their families.
"It is such a community atmosphere at relay and people see it as a great opportunity to step out, with their community, to raise funds to help in the fight against cancer," Mr Dalgleish said.
Twenty-three teams are registered for this year's Horsham and District Relay For Life.
Mr Dalgleish said the committee aimed to make each event special. This time around, a group of young leaders will take to the track as the newly-formed youth committee.
"One of the highlight's of this year's relay is the inclusion of our new youth committee and the youth zone, which features couches, bean bags, Foosball, music and more," he said.
Horsham and District Relay For Life youth committee member Rachel Kemp has participated in the event for the past six years.
This will be the first year where she has taken on a more active role. She said Relay For Life had a lot of young participants, and it was important to have their voices heard in the planning stages.
"The youth committee has been interacting with the senior committee. We are able to understand and appreciate how difficult this event has been to organise," she said. "Cancer affects everyone and it's important we are all involved to help raise money for the cause."
Everyone has a story behind why they relay.
For Horsham and District Relay For Life chairmanager Kingsley Dalgleish, the decision to participate came after seeing first-hand the battles children with cancer endured.
Before moving to Horsham, Mr Dalgleish was involved in Camp Quality and the Childhood Cancer Association in Adelaide.
"I saw what the kids and their families had gone through and the ripple effect," he said.
"I saw a number of kids isolated in their school yard because of the lack of understanding from parents who told their kids not to play with a certain child because they might catch cancer."
While cancer has not touched his family, it has not stopped Mr Dalgleish from doing his part to help others.
Mr Dalgleish has been involved in the Relay For Life committee for nine years. In that time, he has been inspired by survivors, carers and people fighting cancer.
"Cancer is across all ages and is indiscriminate. It affects everyone," he said.
We can walk, talk and share our stories - hug and cry with people and let our grief out.Michael Grayling
"Those battles and the fight people put up is what's inspirational. Everyone's stories are amazing because they fought their battles or cared for someone undergoing treatment."
Relay For Life guest speaker Michael Grayling will walk in his 644th relay on Friday. He is a survivor of testicular and lymphoma cancers after being given six weeks to live.
"I told my doctors it doesn't sound good for a 22-year-old with his whole life ahead of him. I persuaded them to do surgery if needed, and started chemotherapy," he said.
Mr Grayling said the event was an open-air counselling forum for him and many others. "We can walk, talk and share our stories - hug and cry with people and let our grief out," he said. "I need relay. It helps me with my emotion. When I went through my treatment, I had no counselling. I think my emotion is part of that journey where I never had that opportunity to release."
Those battles and the fight people put up is what's inspirational.Kingsley Dalgleish
Wimmera Health Care Group's Abby Roberts said cancer caused a roller-coaster of emotions, and people could reach out for help.
"Their treatment is only fighting the disease and often they're left in the lurch in other aspects of their health," she said.
"There are all these other emotions and physical concerns that aren't necessarily dealt with. Seek help whenever you can and do not stop until you find it."
The Horsham and District Relay For Life will run on Friday and Saturday at Dock Lake Reserve.
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