In 2009 the first “Relay For Life” was organized in my hometown. The start-up of this project involved a certain amount of nervousness since the very first Relay in Denmark was only three years back and knowledge of this event was not widespread.
Nevertheless, we managed to gather 209 participants and 43 fighters (Survivors), which at that time, was a huge number for the first Relay. Today, many new Relays start up with 400-500 participants the very first year. Obviously, knowledge of “Relay For Life” is now huge in Denmark.
Since the beginning our Relay just keeps on growing as you can see in the below chart. In 2015 we expect the number of participants to reach 3,500 generating a surplus of more than USD 170,000.
You may ask what lies behind this steep development. We believe that the reason is the general realization of the fact that cancer is a disease affecting us all. Many families have encountered the disease. These families have, of course, a big interest in helping to raise money for further research in this disease.
I was personally affected when my father was diagnosed with leukemia in 2009 and was hospitalized for six months. In the beginning he was in a hospital and subsequently he was admitted to a rehab centre, and during this period of time his weight went from 92 kg to 53 kg. My father ran his first Relay in 2010 and has been participating ever since.
I have often asked my father why he participates. Relay is the first place where he can talk freely with others of his disease and the course of it. Here, he meets people who are listening, who understand and who are not scared of talking about the disease. Thanks to the Relay he now has a sanctuary where he can relax. The Survivors Lap means so much to him. This is where he thinks about the five persons he met during his six months in hospital, who unfortunately all lost their fight against cancer.
I believe this is a major factor why our has grown so rapidly as it has. The fact that it is a place where the fighters and their relatives can join forces in their struggle against cancer.
We are constantly developing new initiatives for our Relay. One of these initiatives is a tent for the participating children where there is entertainment; they can draw and play together. We make sure that an adult is present all the time with whom the children can talk. Children participate in the Relay for many different reasons. Some of them are fighters (Survivors) themselves, some have a member of the family with cancer and some participate together with a close friend.
My father-in-law was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2012 and he died in 2013. He and my father are the direct reasons why I spend so many hours every year on this project and will continue to do so.
The main thing about my voluntary work in Relay For Life is when I see the fighters walk their round. Some are smiling, some are crying – but the sense of community tying us all together is all around.
ONE WORLD ONE HOPE
My name is Henrik. I am from Denmark. I am a Relayer and I am proud to be one!