Relay For Life is the largest fundraising event for cancer in the world.
The atmosphere at the athletic tracks of the American University of Sharjah (AUS) was truly awe-inspiring, as over 3,000 participants including 200 volunteers committed themselves to a 24-hour walkathon on Friday at the second UAE edition of Relay For Life – the largest fundraising event for cancer in the world.
On the same day that relayers were walking the tracks in South Africa, India and the US, the UAE community too rallied together in an emotional portrayal of support for cancer survivors, patients and caregivers with the participation of 10 schools, 5 universities, 13 sponsors and 20 public and private entities.
Organised by UAE-based Friends of Cancer Patients (FOCP) in collaboration with the American Cancer Society, a large community of supporters cheered on as RFL 2019 commenced with an inspiring walk around the athletic tracks.
Accompanied by Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, Founding Board Member of FOCP, the first to walk were cancer survivors, followed by the FOCP team in celebration of the organisation’s 20th anniversary, followed by the caregivers and relay teams. Earlier, Sheikha Lubna was given a tour of the event venue by Sawsan Jafar, Chairperson of the Board of Directors, FOCP.
“The act of giving is what shapes our humanity and defines our values,” said Sheikha Lubna, in her message to participants, while emphasising Sharjah’s commitment to the betterment of its people.
“We gather today in Sharjah which has always catered for, championed and prioritised the wellbeing of its people, following the lead of His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, and his wife, Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Founder and Royal Patron of FOCP, who believe that the building blocks of a strong society are informed, cultured, and most importantly, healthy individuals,” she said. “Today is an exceptional testimony of this commitment,” she continued. “Hand in hand, we stand to relay help, peace and love to heroes who turned the cancer tide with hope, faith and determination. Relay For Life once again ignites the spark of hope,” she said. “What we experience today is a demonstration of selfless humanity and dedication.” Thanking participants for joining RFL 2019, she added, “With every step you take today, you nurture a more empathetic UAE.”
Other attendees at the event included Noura Al Noman, Chairperson of The Executive office of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Bint Mohammed Al Qasimi; Humaid Jafar, Founder and Chairperson of Crescent Petroleum; Varouj Nerguizian, CEO, Bank of Sharjah; Reem BinKaram, Director of NAMA Women Advancement Establishment; FOCP Board Members: Adalat Nakkash, Areej Dewaik and Meera Taryam.
In her address at the event, Jafar said: “We are gathered here today in large numbers to fight a disease that can change lives in dramatic ways. Each and every one of us present here today represents a symbol of hope for a healthier future for all.”
Commending the relayers for their incredible devotion and commitment, she noted, “Through every step you take, every dirham you help raise, and the hours you spend on the tracks, you will continue to make an enormous impact in our joint fight against cancer. Your collective selfless devotion has shown us that no one has to face cancer alone.”
“Relay For Life is more than just a fundraiser, she added. “It sends a powerful message of solidarity to the whole community. That even through our struggles and despite unfortunate occasions of losing a loved one, we can still find the courage and strength to march on and inspire change.”
Calling cancer as a “great equaliser”, Kristen Solt, Managing Director of Global Relay for Life, referred to Relay For Life as the “great unifier.”
More than 2 million relayers in 30 countries across the globe come together and there were nearly 4,000 RFL events last year, she said. “We come together as cancer societies and communities and our voices will be heard, bringing us one step closer to our goal of a world without cancer.”
FOCP, she said, was “leading the fight against cancer in the region, using relay to elevate the conversation about cancer and bringing hope to so many people; because of your support and the services you provide, cancer survivors will proudly walk this track, showing the world that cancer can be beaten.”
“Relay unites us, no matter where we live,” she added.
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