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Donegal gives Cancer Society 45,000 reasons to smile

Optum Superheros at the Donegal Relay for Life on Saturday: Anne Marie Gallagher, Barry McGill, Celine Keary, Eva Walsh, Amanda McFadden, David Cowan and Ruth McCallogue. Photo Clive Wasson

 
OVER 5,000 people pulled on their trainers in Donegal over the weekend, helping raise almost €45,000 for the Irish Cancer Society.
 
An Ireland-wide campaign, Relay for Life sees communities across Ireland unite to remember loved ones lost to cancer and to raise awareness of the disease.
 
All money raised is used to fund vital research and services provided by the Irish Cancer Society.
 

Doengal Dragons doing their bit at the Relay for Life.

 
 
Started by the American Cancer Society during the 1980s, Relay for Life has become a global phenomenon with events now being held in 20 countries around the world.
 
On Saturday the people of Donegal and beyond put their best foot forward at Letterkenny’s Institute of Technology to ensure those lost to cancer are not forgotten.
 
Organiser Ena Barrett revealed how thousands of people turned out on Saturday evening for the Luminaria ceremony. It saw the names of loved ones who have battled or are battling cancer written on paper bags which were then illuminated by candlelight.
 

Ena Barrett with Katie McLaughlin cutting the tape to start the Donegal Relay for Life on Saturday.

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The response from local communities had been huge once again, Ms Barrett said.
 
“Last night at the Luminaria ceremony we had about 5,000 people. That is 5,000 candles sold and that is purely down to our wonderful volunteers who have been selling candles throughout the county. Even before this kicked off they had 3,500 candles sold which is just amazing.
 
“We had Moya Brennan of Clannad back for the Luminaria too which just added to the overall atmosphere of things.”
 
Last year’s 24 hour event was used to raise funds for an Irish Cancer Society research project at Letterkenny University Hospital and in excess of €100,000 was raised. This year’s event was used to raise cash for the Irish Cancer Society in general however Donegal will still benefit substantially as a result.
 

Bettie Holmes, Rose Boylan, Mary McDaid and Marie Kelly from DACC and a quilt made in memory of Jeannie Coverdale by her good friend Nancy Martin at the Donegal Relay for Life.

 
 
Ena Barrett said the number of people who turned out in Donegal this year was up, with 42 teams signed up compared to 35 teams in 2017. And a big part of the event’s success was down to the county’s young people, she added.
 
“A lot of the feedback has been about how amazing our young people have been this weekend,” said Ms Barrett.
“They have worked tirelessly throughout this year’s Relay for Life and this morning at 5am when everyone was tired, they were out tidying up and making sure everything was ready to go again. They are a credit to their families and to the county.”
 
A novel angle to Donegal’s Relay for Life is beans. Each year thousands of tins of beans are donated and used to weigh down the candle bags. Once the Relay is over, the tins are taken and donated to local charities and food banks.
 
“We have 5,000 tins of beans to give away afterwards so it is a win win. We use the tins of beans and then our charities benefit from them.
 
“It’s a lovely idea,” Ms Barrett added.
 

Catriona Bradley, Myriam Mullen, Margaret Diver and Sarah Brunell from Foys and Co enjoying the Donegal Relay for Life.

 
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