3,000 unite to remember lives affected by cancer in Sharjah walkathon
RFL 2019 commenced with an inspiring walk around the athletic tracks.
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 Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, and his wife, 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."
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 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."
Silence enveloped the arena as a video depicting the overwhelming impact cancer and its treatment has on the individual and their families and personal lifestyles was screened. Mirroring the theme of Relay For Life, this video thoughtfully illustrated that just as important as the selfless support from loved ones was the personal determination to build courage and brave the challenges to fight the odds and beat cancer.
RFL 2019, which commenced at 4pm today continued through the night, and providing light and inspiration were the hundreds of Luminaria candles bearing personalised messages to honour the memories of loved ones and celebrate survivors.
At the symbolic 'Give a Ghaf' planting ceremony introduced for the first time this year; participants planted a living monument in memory of their loved ones.
Several themed laps added the fun element, as participants upped the entertainment quotient at the walkathon with the 'Greatest Hits Lap', 'Make a Friend lap', 'Superhero lap' amongst several others. Other entertainment activities included live band performances and DJs, comedy acts, poetry and storytelling.
Relay for Life has its roots in the USA where colorectal surgeon Dr. Gordy Klatt organised the first event in 1985 singlehandedly raising $27,000 for his local cancer charity. To date, Relay For Life has raised more than $5 billion (Dh18.3 billion) in support of cancer patients worldwide.
Those interested can support the cause throughout the year by registering with the newly launched 'RFL UAE' mobile app that connects personal health goals to fundraising for cancer patients. The app can track users' steps all year round, enabling them to raise a particular value in funds upon completing the fitness goal attached to each.
At a special ceremony held at the start of the event, Sheikha Lubna honoured the main partners of the event - Crescent Petroleum, Bank of Sharjah, and American Cancer Society, and its supporting partners - American University of Sharjah, National Network Communication, Bee'ah, Skechers, Fresh Fruits Company, Fibre Optic Suppliers & Services LLC, Sajaya Young Ladies of Sharjah, Sharjah Ladies Club, and Qimah Volunteering Team.
RFL 2019 will conclude at 4pm Saturday at AUS.
About 58 per cent of infectious diseases in humans are zoonotic -... READ MORE
Programme will help young Arab researchers, scientists and creative... READ MORE
They were intercepted at the Jaipur International Airport and are... READ MORE
The new cases were identified after conducting additional 71,000... READ MORE
Industry representatives praise authorities for their management of... READ MORE
A 3,000-bed field hospital was set up at WTC in April to treat... READ MORE
239 scientists in 32 countries outlined evidence that shows floating... READ MORE
The Hope Probe is set for liftoff on July 15. READ MORE