Pictured: Two-year-old Felicity De La Fuente with Illawarra Relay for Life Ambassadors Luciana Rossi, Maree Kerr, Wendy Saville and Jessica De La Fuente. Credit: ADAM McLEAN
About 2500 people are expected to take part in the 24-hour Cancer Council Relay For Life this weekend, walking, rolling or strolling their way around the track at the Kerryn McCann Athletics Centre in Gwynneville.
Event organiser Terry Deegan said the fund-raising event was on track to raise the committee's goal of $320,000, all of which will go towards cancer support services in the Illawarra.
"The money stays local and supports Illawarra cancer patients and their families," Mr Deegan said.
Services funded by the Relay For Life include a Cancer Council Information Centre at Wollongong Hospital, a cancer transport service, and a new cancer services directory - to be released at the relay - that lists all the services available locally for cancer patients and their families. The Relay also funds a telephone help line.
"Trained oncology nurses take calls every day from cancer patients, their families and friends - anyone who wants to find out more about a particular type of cancer or what they need to do because they have just been diagnosed," Mr Deegan said.
Wollongong Relay For Life is now in its 13th year and has grown markedly since the first event in 2001, which had 500 walkers and raised $75,000.
A few motivated participants will attempt to walk for the entire 24 hours, but most will do shorter stints.
"By no means do people have to walk for the 24 hours," Mr Deegan said.
"They don't need to run or anything like that. They can come along and walk, stroll, roll, whatever they want to do around the track."
There would be entertainment throughout tomorrow, including a "Kids and Youth Games Zone". Albion Park X-Factor star Rohan Herring - himself a cancer survivor - will headline an evening concert.
"We encourage anyone and everyone to come down with their families and check it out and get involved," Mr Deegan said.
There will also be entertainment, including movie screenings, for those walkers and their supporters who will keep the relay going during the small hours.
"We've got a couple of really motivated uni teams and a few of their participants are going to bring their guitars along and chill out by the side of the track and play a few tunes to encourage those who are walking through the night."