Walkathon for cancer
A 24-hour 'Relay for Life' Walkathon in aide of cancer survivors, patients and caregivers took place at American University Sharjah on Friday and Saturday Image Credit: Supplied

Sharjah: Over 3,000 participants including 200 volunteers began a 24-hour walkathon on Friday at American University of Sharjah (AUS) for the second edition of the UAE leg of the Relay For Life - the world’s largest fundraising event for cancer in the world - organised by UAE-based Friends of Cancer Patients (FOCP) in collaboration with the American Cancer Society.

Coinciding simultaneously with events in South Africa, India and the US, the UAE community also rallied together in support of cancer survivors, patients and caregivers with the participation of 10 schools, five universities, 13 sponsors and 20 public and private entities.

The event is expected to finish at 4pm on Saturday.

To date, Relay For Life, has raised more than US$5 billion (AED18.3 billion) in support of cancer patients worldwide since its inception in 1985.

More than two million relayers across 30 countries took part in nearly 4,000 events last year.

Shaikha Lubna bint Khalid Al Qassimi, Founding Board Member of FOCP, said, “Hand in hand, we stand to relay help, peace and love to heroes who turned the cancer tide with hope, faith and determination. Relay For Life once again ignites the spark of hope. What we experience today is a demonstration of selfless humanity and dedication. With every step you take today, you nurture a more empathetic UAE."

Sawsan Jafar, Chairperson of the Board of Directors at FOCP, said:  “Through every step you take, every dirham you help raise, and the hours you spend on the tracks, you will continue to make an enormous impact in our joint fight against cancer. Your collective selfless devotion has shown us that no one has to face cancer alone."

Relay For Life is more than just a fundraiser, she added. “It sends a powerful message of solidarity to the whole community. That even through our struggles and despite unfortunate occasions of losing a loved one, we can still find the courage and strength to march on and inspire change.”

Calling cancer as a “great equaliser”, Kristen Solt, Managing Director of Global Relay for Life, referred to Relay For Life as the “great unifier.”

More than 2 million relayers in 30 countries across the globe come together and nearly 4,000 RFL events last year, she said. “We come together as cancer societies and communities and our voices will be heard, bringing us one step closer to our goal of a world without cancer.”

FOCP, she said, was “leading the fight against cancer in the region, using relay to elevate the conversation about cancer and bringing hope to so many people; because of your support and the services you provide, cancer survivors will proudly walk this track, showing the world that cancer can be beaten.”

“Relay unites us, no matter where we live,” she added.