EVERYONE had a touching story to share at the 2020 Mount Gambier Relay for Life over the weekend, but for three sisters it was a particularly emotional event.
A total of 240 participants from 19 teams pitched tents and pulled on their walking shoes at Blue Lake Sports Park on Friday evening to continuously lap an oval course during the night to raise money and awareness for the Cancer Council of South Australia.
Holly Somerfield, April Von Duve and Kirby Francis were among the contingent, joined by family and close friends to honour their late mother Sue Francis.
Sue – known as Snoodle – was diagnosed with skin cancer in late 2018, which quickly progressed and led to her death in March the following year.
Reflecting on how cancer had impacted their lives, Holly revealed her mother’s short battle with cancer.
“From when she was diagnosed to when she passed it was just a matter of months,” Holly said.
“She went from walking April down the aisle, to having her first grandchild born to celebrating her 60th birthday and then passing away.”
With the first anniversary of Sue’s death last Wednesday, April said the Relay for Life event came at the perfect time to give them a chance to honour her life.
“We wanted a way to celebrate her anniversary and we thought this coincided well and gave us a chance to also raise money and awareness,” Kirby said.
“A lot of people in our family have been impacted by it since, so it was important to be part of it.”
The trio revealed they had raised around $22,000 for the Cancer Council with more money expected to flow in over the next few days.
“The outpouring of support – particularly the money raised – it has just made us so proud of how many people she touched throughout the community,” Kirby said.
“She was really well-known and liked by everyone, which fills us with a lot of pride.”
Speaking at the conclusion of the event, Kirby described the emotion the girls experienced during the night as others shared their stories.
“It has been pretty emotional because most people have lost someone close to them, but then there are also the stories of survival,” Kirby said.
“It’s so nice to know that people have beaten it and it makes you hopeful again that you can get past it.”
Relay for Life chair Steve Toope said it was a fantastic result with more than $70,000 being raised by all the teams involved.
“The committee thanks all teams and participants for their tremendous contribution in raising the funds,” Mr Toope said.
“It is heart-warming to see good people with kind hearts come together for a good cause and recognise to fight the scourge of cancer and to also assist those who are suffering with the disease and those that are helping look after sufferers.”
He also recognised the work the Cancer Council of South Australia provided behind the scenes to ensure all Relay for Life events were a success.
“There were concerns raised with staging the event as the Victoria Cancer Council had cancelled all the Relay for Life events in Victoria,” he said.
“We were also getting updates on events that were being cancelled within the region and updates regarding government statements.
“It was a matter the committee took seriously and held a meeting to discuss all the relevant information available to us.
“It was decided to proceed with the event and put in place the necessary hygiene processes and to make announcements in regards to the coronavirus.”