UAE: 24 hours of sports, artistic, and musical events organised to raise funds for cancer

More than 2,000 residents join overnight event at Kshisha Park in Sharjah


Nasreen Abdulla

Published: Sat 10 Dec 2022, 10:16 PM

Last updated: Sat 10 Dec 2022, 11:23 PM

Arcade games, dance workouts and lots of fun for kids marked the first few hours of the Relay for Life (RFL) fundraiser that kicked off on Saturday afternoon at the Kshisha Park in Sharjah. The light evening drizzle did nothing to dampen the festive mood that accompanied the event as families came out to support awareness and fundraising for cancer treatment.

More than 2,000 people, including 700 cancer survivors and volunteers, participated in the third edition of the RFL, a 24-hour multidisciplinary relay and the largest peer-to-peer cancer fundraising event in the world.

It gives parents and guardians the opportunity to help raise awareness and understanding among children, in a friendly, gentle and engaging manner.

Raising the slogan “Ready, Set, Live”, the relay organised by UAE-based Friends of Cancer Patients (FOCP), will continue overnight for 24 hours with various sports, artistic, and musical events until its grand finale at 4pm on Sunday.

Started in 1985, RFL is a community-based fundraising event for the American Cancer Society. Every year, more than 5,000 RFL events take place in over twenty countries

Fun and games

Clowns juggled rings and bowling pins while stilt walkers and balloon benders entertained the little children at the event. Youngsters played table tennis and foosball while their friends and families cheered them on. Several participants or “relayers” as they were called joined the dance workout at the park.

One of them was Khloud, who was at the event with her daughter, niece and brother. Having survived cancer three years ago, Khloud was happy to be part of the event. “I heard about it from FOCP and I wanted to be a part of it,” she said. “I wanted to come here and

Her 16-year-year old daughter Bisan said that dealing with the news of her mother’s cancer was hard as a teenager. “I needed to be strong for her,” she said. “I didn’t want to be weak because she was really counting on me but I was a young kid so it was not always easy to put on a brave face. I am happy that events like these are making it easier for children to understand what cancer is in a more engaging way.”

Several participants brought tents and sleeping mattresses to spend the night at the park during the relay.

Raise awareness

Aisha Al Mulla, director of FOCP, said that the event was as much about raising awareness as it was about raising funds. “One of the activities we have at the event is a corner where cancer survivors can share their stories and their journey,” she said. “We want to make the journey for cancer patients to be less lonely and support them. Also, it is not possible for the general public to interact with cancer patients and survivors on a day-to-day basis. We are making this possible so that they can hear the stories from our warriors and have more empathy.”

The event kicked off with a walking lap around the park by high-ranking officials. There will also be several other laps including the ‘Warriors Lap’ featuring cancer patients, survivors, supporters and caregivers. There were also painting stations for children and adults. Football fans were able to catch the action on big screens at the event.

Another cancer survivor, Ruqayya said she was at the event to share her experiences. “It was a long and arduous journey for me,” she said. “The good thing about being part of FOCP is that you have a community who supports you through thick and thin. Anything you need to know or need to do, the FOCP helps you.”

The Nigerian who moved to Dubai in 2020 said she didn’t have any family or friends in the city to support her when she was diagnosed in 2021. “It was just my husband and me,” she said. “The best thing about FOCP is that there is no judgement. We have all been through a tough journey and we all respect each other for that. Sometimes I have faced some discrimination for being African, but FOCP is a safe place where everyone respects you and is ready to help you. So, I wanted to be a part of this event and share my journey with any woman who needed to hear it.”

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