It’s not often that parents take their school-aged children for a combined 42-kilometre walk at midnight but that’s just what 11 families at Matthew Flinders Anglican College did in the name of charity.
‘Relay for Life’ is a fun and moving fundraiser for the Cancer Council where participants walk through the night to raise vital funds for research, prevention, information and support services.
For the second year in a row, Flinders’ families on the Sunshine Coast raised $2500 when their team of 11 children, aged from 9 to 12 years walked the relay from 2pm Saturday, 5 May to 8am the following morning.
Together, they completed 1052 laps of the 400-metre track at the University of the Sunshine Coast.
In the past five years, Relayers in Australia have raised $108 million for the Cancer Council, with more than 200 relays completed nationally each year.
Flinders principal Stuart Meade said the College was incredibly proud of the students’ persistence and courage.
“I can imagine the students’ sense of exhilaration overcame any feelings of exhaustion as they walked together during the 18-hour event,” Mr Meade said.
“It’s wonderful to see our Flinders families supporting an important fundraiser like Relay for Life because it gives our students that invaluable feeling of pride in putting aside their own comfort in order to be of service to others.”
Flinders’ parent Desley Ellison said the students set themselves a mammoth task and achieved their personal goals.
“All children involved showed immense courage, inner strength, sense of humour and overall teamwork,” Desley said.
“As parents, we are impressed with how they acted; pushing themselves way beyond their limits, while also encouraging their teammates, parents and other participants around them.
“They showed they are true leaders.”
Some heartwarming stories of courage and persistence include Jasmine in Year 4 who went home to bed under protest at 8.30pm, only to return at 5am to continue walking with her team.
Year 5 Flinders student Teigan spent three hours walking and heavy lifting to help set-up for the event, and then achieved her goal of 100 laps, despite feeling at 70 laps that she was too exhausted to continue.
Haris, in Year 7, and his mother arrived at midnight with a thermos of delicious coffee to share with this team mates. He went to work and completed 38 laps.
Zach in Year 7 completed 150 laps. By midnight he had completed 100 laps, and kept going until 6am to reach the goal he had set.
The Relay for Life night walk invites participants to imagine the darkness as symbolic of the fear cancer patients feel when diagnosed.
During the event, candle bags are lit after sunset to remember those who have lost their lives, to celebrate those who have survived and to remind those affected by cancer that they are not alone.
The Flinders team hoped their story would inspire others to join the event in 2019 and raise much-needed funds.