Feature
Survivors going through their paces at Relay For Life 2019.
Photo: Contributed

Thousands of persons are offered support by the Jamaica Cancer Society (JCS) in their fight against cancer and the JCS relies on the generosity of citizens, through donations and participation in its major annual fundraiser, ‘Relay for Life’.

This year, for the first time in 19 years, the flagship fundraiser will be held virtually under the theme ‘Hope from Yaad’.

The event will be multipronged, appealing to gamers, music lovers, runners, walkers, and paraplegics.

“Persons can register to run, walk, race or [wheel] five kilometres (5k) at their own pace within their own space between now and September 30, 2021. We also want persons to tune in to the virtual opening ceremony, luminary segment and purple party on July 31 between the hours of 7:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. via the JCS website and social media pages,” Relay for Life Chairperson, Marie Powell, tells JIS News.

The 5k registration cost, which doubles as participants’ contribution, is US$10.00 or J$1,500.00 and can be paid online via the JCS website, www.JCS.live.

Mrs. Powell says that  before the start of the event on July 31, there will also be an online Games Party that requires a $500.00 contribution, and interested persons may also register for this via the JCS website.

The opening ceremony will include comments about the event and the mission of the JCS.

“During the luminary ceremony, we will remember persons who lost their battle with cancer and celebrate persons who are still alive and fighting. The ceremony is very reflective and solemn, so we will have an entertainment show, ‘Purple Party’, to lift our participants’ spirits after. There will be performances by major talents such as Grammy award-winning artiste, Shaggy, during the Purple Party,” the Chairperson shares.

The Fundraising and Public Relations Officer at the JCS, Shullian Brown, points out  that the 5k race will be executed in partnership with Becka Sports, which will record the time, so that participants can receive their electronic participation certificate.

“Once you have registered for the 5K you will receive an email with detailed guidelines about the event rules, collecting bibs, clocking/uploading time taken to complete the 5k and receiving the official Relay for Life completion certificate,” Ms. Brown explains.

She highlights that the 5k event not only serves to raise donations for the JCS’s mission but also encourages persons to practise a healthy lifestyle by engaging in physical activity.

“We decided to host the event virtually this year due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions, which include social distancing and other measures to help curb the spread of the disease. However, we still need the sponsorship of persons locally and abroad to raise funds, because amid the pandemic, cancer diagnoses are still being made and persons need the support,” Ms. Brown notes.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Powell is hopeful that the virtual staging will have the same success as previous events.

“If the JCS, which is a charitable organisation, is unable to raise funds, this limits its operations. Funds raised from our primary fundraiser, Relay for Life, go a long way and are used for public education, screening, and a portion goes to research so that we can continue the search for a cure for cancer,” she tells JIS News.

For her part, Ms. Brown adds that based on the fundraising efforts, the JCS is also able to assist persons in need of financial aid, through small grants to offset some of the costs associated with treatment for cancer and persons who use the JCS clinic days and may have difficulty paying for the services.

“The coronavirus (COVID-19) is here but persons are still being diagnosed with cancer, so the JCS has to be there to offer help to those persons. However, we can’t do it without the generosity and empathy of citizens, because in reality, we have all been impacted by cancer. Through participating and contributing to Relay for Life persons are providing hope to many and raising awareness on the importance of early detection of cancer,” she says.

Mrs. Powell and Ms. Brown are both appealing to persons to support the JCS mandate, ‘Fight and defeat cancer in all its forms’, by participating in its annual major fundraiser, Relay for Life.

“We are encouraging persons in Jamaica and across the World to support the JCS and participate and contribute to Relay for Life this year. Entities, schools, and churches can mobilise their teams and while practising COVID-19 protocols complete their 5k in their own space and on their own time,” she tells JIS News.

Members of team Startek doing their team lap at Relay For Life 2019.

 

This year, the JCS hopes to raise $10 million through Relay for Life and kind donations by February 2022.

Relay For Life holds the distinction of being the major cancer awareness fundraiser in the English-speaking Caribbean and was first executed in Jamaica in 2003 by the JCS.

The JCS is a non-profit, non-governmental organisation, established in 1955 and charged with a mandate to “fight and defeat cancer in all its forms.” Through its head office in Kingston and a network of branches in St. Elizabeth, Manchester and St. Ann/St. Mary, the Society offers programmes and services to the public in keeping with its mission “to eliminate cancer as a major health problem in Jamaica”.

Services are provided through the fixed site and mobile screening units, national education and public health awareness programmes, selected treatment and diagnostic services and counselling and support mechanisms for victims of cancer and their families.

For more information on how to register/donate to Relay for Life, persons may visit the JCS website, www.JCS.live, or call 876 927-4265/4573.

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