IN a sea of people wearing purple shirts, members of the 1/19 Royal NSW Regiment Relay for Life team stood out walking laps of the Waratah Sportsground in their camouflage gear and army packs.
But their reasons for taking part in the weekend’s relay were just the same as everyone else’s: to raise as much money as they could and pay tribute to loved ones touched with cancer.
“We’re local members of the community supporting the Cancer Council,” first-time relayer Lieutenant Michael Kelly said.
“The guys put their hand up so I decided to do it too, I’ve had family with cancer.”
They weren’t the only team wearing attention-getting garb to trudge around the waterlogged sportsground. Every colour of the rainbow was represented and some even wore animal onesies.
Putting the fun back into fundraising was one of the main features of the Relay for Life, according to committee chair Terry Betts.
He said the community response went beyond organisers’ expectations and recent wet weather had failed to dampen anyone’s enthusiasm.
“It’s fantastic, we’ve had over 1000 registered participants,” he said.
“Considering the weather we’ve had over the last week to think all these teams and individuals fronted on the day is phenomenal.
“Orange sold out of gum boots in the weeks leading up.”
Mr Betts said there was already more than $70,000 in the bank just a few hours into the relay but with proceeds from the teams’ activities on the day and online donations open for two weeks after the event, he was confident the $170,000 goal would be reached.
The wares and food on sale from teams made Waratahs resemble a market.
The 10-member strong Titans team were hoping to capitalise on a cool Saturday night to sell handknitted beanies and scarves.
Team members Ann O’Neil and Gail Wright are long-time relayers and aimed to raise at least as much as last year’s $2000.
Their first time was just after Mrs Wright was diagnosed with breast cancer 10 years ago.
“She was diagnosed just before Christmas, it was awful,” Mrs O’Neil said.
Mrs Wright and fellow team member Peter Goodlock are both cancer survivors.
“We bring our families together to raise some money for it and hope to find a cure one day,” Mrs Wright said.
“It’s also to have a bit of fun.”
First-timer Private Kenneth Turnbull and the four other members of the 1/19 team had already raised more than $900 by Saturday afternoon.
Although carrying his sleeping gear in an army pack around the oval was heavy going, for Mr Turnbull the weekend’s event was about doing his bit for the community. The family friends who had lost their battle with cancer were never far from his mind.