Despite a power outage that left several parishes in darkness last Saturday (June 10), scores of teams and patrons turned up at the Police Officer’s Club on Hope Road in St Andrew to participate in the in-person return of Relay for Life, the Jamaica Cancer Society’s (JCS) major fundraiser event.
The annual event was disrupted for the past three years by the COVID-19 pandemic.
With the support of platinum sponsors, including the JN Group and the Ministry of Health and Wellness, the entity sought to raise at least J$15 million to support projects and cancer survivors.
The society is now focused on collecting the outstanding pledges and contributions.
The list of registered entities for this year’s staging included government, churches, media, schools, financial institutions and health services. Also among the hundreds that turned out were some 200 cancer survivors.
“It’s been 16 years since I became a survivor,” said Audrey Allen, who was among a group, clad in green shirts, gathered in front the main stage used for the opening ceremony.
Earl Jarrett, CEO of the Jamaica National Group and chairman of the JCS, gave special recognition to the survivors during the ceremony. He praised the hundreds that turned out for the event.
“We do this for the cause and our cause is to provide the knowledge so that people can make life-changing decisions. Today, people can avoid the burdens of cancer with a simple test,” he said as he encouraged persons to get screened to increase their chance of survival with early detection.
During the event, the annual luminaria ceremony was observed to remember those who fought the disease bravely.
“This relay started as a simple exercise to raise awareness and funds for cancer and now it has spread across the world, and I’m also pleased to see that we here in Jamaica have taken it to higher heights,” said Jarrett.
Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton commended JCS and its sponsors, describing the event as a critical part of the multifaceted approach needed to address the growing rate of cancers in Jamaica. He said the government will continue to partner with the JCS through increased screenings and community interventions.
“Many Jamaicans find out that they are sick when it is too late and the reality is that many forms of cancers can be treated,” the minister said. “Let us renew our fight to ensure that we find more solutions as time goes by,” he further encouraged.
For his part, Opposition Leader Mark Golding, who was represented at the ceremony by Jesse James, junior shadow spokesperson for Health and Wellness, also praised the JCS for its work over the years.
The Jamaica National Group has been supporting Relay for Life for more than a decade. This year marked the 21st anniversary of the event and it was held under the theme: “Walking Together with Hope.”
Neuroendocrine cancer was the focus of the JN Group for this year’s event. The zebra print ribbon is the designated ribbon for uncommon diseases such as neuroendocrine tumours. During the event, medical doctor, Kapel Dowe shared a presentation looking at the incidents, signs and treatment of neuroendocrine cancer.