Ballina Relay for Life drops baton

THE hugely popular and successful Ballina Relay for Life has been cancelled this year because of a lack of volunteers.

Bangalow's event was also ‘rested' this year, but planning for 2011 is already under way.

Ballina Relay for Life committee stalwart, Doug Stinson, said the cancellation was very disappointing.

“It's a real shame,” he said.

“We've raised at least $50,000 every Relay, and one year we even managed to raise $100,000.

“It's been really popular with the community, with about 50 to 60 teams.

“We've tried really hard to get people to be on the committee – we had meetings, but no one turned up.

“It would be good to find people who are really keen.

“It's sad that it's been cancelled this year, but from the Cancer Council's point of view, I guess they would rather not have it than for it to be a failure.”

Project officer for the Cancer Council's Far North Coast office, Rory Janssens, said it had been a tough decision to cancel the Ballina event.

“While it is disappointing that this year's event is off, it's important to have the right resources and enthusiasm from the community to hold a special event like Relay,” he said.

“We understand the time and commitment that people have put into past Relays and appreciate they sometimes need time out to recharge their batteries.

“We feel a year's rest will help rejuvenate the community's enthusiasm for the event.”

The Ballina Relay for Life has raised a total of $420,000 since it started in 2003.

Mr Janssens said the money had helped the Council Council fund vital research, education programs and support services.

“The good news is that an alternative fundraising event is planned for November, so that our supporters can come together and raise funds todefeat cancer,” he said.

Ballina Shire councillor Alan Brown, who is also a cancer survivor, said he hoped the Relay would be revived.

“A lot of people enjoy participating, so it's very popular, but the organisation and running of it needs to be driven by the community,” he said.

“Unfortunately, we just couldn't rally enough people this year.

“So much relies on volunteers these days – you really can't blame people for not putting their hand up.

“I wouldn't like to think this is the beginning of the end.

“The Relay for Life has a lot of fun about it.”

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