Support for emotional relay 'incredible'
'It doesn't seem enough to say thank you'CHRIS HYDE
As a record crowd of cancer survivors completed an emotional walk around Massey's Hokowhitu campus athletics track, the sky opened for them.
Organiser of Manawatu's 14th Relay for Life Faye James was still coming to terms with the surreal weekend when the Manawatu Standard spoke to her yesterday afternoon.
At least 2200, including an "incredible" 400 survivors, raised a provisional total of $358,825 for the Manawatu branch of the Cancer Society.
That was well up on last year's provisional total of $321,784, which eventually turned into $400,151. The $4 million mark for the total during the years was also breached as a result of this year's fundraising.
"It's just absolutely incredible. The weather was superb, there were no issues within the 24 hours and the way everything has turned out is a credit to the people of Manawatu.
"The total community support that we have and that we can call on is amazing.
"It doesn't seem enough to say thank you."
People of all ages wore distinctive red bands throughout the event to signify that they had been diagnosed with cancer but had beaten it.
It was a sign that the public was more open and willing to discuss the disease, Mrs James said.
"Twenty years ago people just didn't mention the word cancer. There's a far better attitude towards it now."
Red-band wearer Kenneth Nielsen, 12, said it was an amazing experience to walk the track with fellow survivors. It was a similar story for 9-year-old Alex Stevenson.
"It's a symbolism of the journey we've been through," Kenneth's mother Lisa said.
Also walking the track was Levin man Wayne Ferrick and his wife Suzanne.
It was Mr Ferrick's fifth Relay for Life, but this one had extra significance after he was diagnosed with a form of bone cancer in his leg 18 months ago.
"I have been quite lucky - if they hadn't found it when they did things would have been different."
The after-effects of the cancer mean he is now unable to run, but he said to walk with the other survivors gave him great pride.
AT A GLANCE
Money raised so far: $358,825
Most laps by a team: Palmerston North Boys' High (despite dropping their transponder)
Most money raised by a corporate team: C B Norwood
Most raised by community or school team: Winchester Wanderers (Levin)
Most raised by a family or friends team: Team Wenman
Most raised by a new team: Curves
Best team spirit: All Night Angels
- Manawatu Standard
Is New Zealand's airport security stringent enough?Related story: Risky objects bypass Wellington Airport security