Sharjah: With the participation of more than 2,000 people, Shaikha Jawaher Bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, wife of His Highness Dr Shaikh Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah and Founder and Royal Patron of Friends of Cancer Patients (FoCP), on Friday launched the region’s first ever Relay for Life at the American University of Sharjah, a 24-hour walkathon aimed at generating publicity and funds for the fight against cancer.
Shaikha Jawaher, who is the International Ambassador of the World Cancer Declaration for the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) and International Ambassador for Childhood Cancer for UICC, participated in the first lap of the walkathon with cancer survivors, highlighting the importance of raising awareness of the disease and the necessity for screening for its early detection — the most important factor in survival and recovery.
Organised by Friends of Cancer Patients (FoCP), the non-profit organisation that supports cancer patients and their families, the inaugural event for the Mena region commenced at 4pm on Friday and will finish at the same time on Saturday. The overnight event has attracted the participation of more than 2,000 ‘relayers,’ with individuals and institutions taking part including 52 schools, six universities, eight partners, 37 government and private institutions and 67 cancer survivors.
Relay for Life has its roots in the US in 1985. Organised by colorectal surgeon Dr Gordon Klatt, the first ever event raised $27,000 for his local cancer charity but since then has gone on to become the largest fund-raising event for cancer in the world. Currently taking place in 29 countries, Relay for Life has to date raised more than $5 billion (Dh18.3 billion) in support of cancer patients worldwide.
Addressing the relayers, their supporters and all those involved at the start of the walkathon, Shaikha Jawaher thanked everyone for their time and effort. “Today, we have come together to continue a story that began in 1999 when we launched Friends of Cancer Patients, which is dedicated to standing by cancer patients and lending them a helping hand. Every step you will take today will add to the flame of hope, making it burn higher and stronger in the lives of those for whom we are all here today,” she said.