The Illawarra Relay for Life is quickly becoming a tradition for the Ware family from Figtree.
Dressed in their finest fairy outfits, the family joined the sea of purple-shirted participants crowding the Gywnneville athletics track for the overnight charity fundraiser at the weekend.
Lisa Ware said they hoped to raise $2000 and show their support for two family members who were battling cancer and were too ill to be there.
"We have a theme every year, so last year it was Hawaiian and this year it's fairies," she said.
"We've come down because the kids' aunty and uncle, both from one family, are suffering from cancer, so their aunty is in remission and their uncle is in palliative [care].
"We've come down to raise money because the kids wanted to do something."
Stories like the Wares' were all too common at the Cancer Council fund raising event, a strong reminder of the number of lives touched by cancer each year.
Hundreds of families and fund-raising teams pitched tents in the middle of the Kerryn McCann Athletics Centre so they could stay for the full 24-hour event.
Nationwide, Relay for Life raises more than $18 million annually.
Illawarra Relay for Life chair Maree Kerr said more than 170 teams had registered in the region and the event aimed to raise $400,000.
"Most of the money will stay locally and a portion of it does obviously go to research," she said.
"This year we opened a Cancer Council information booth at Wollongong Hospital ... and there's another new program that we've started where we can give support to cancer patients and their carers by way of transporting them to appointments or giving carers a little bit of time out."
Mrs Kerr said $218,500 had been banked at the weekend, however she was expecting that figure to increase considerably this week as teams collected outstanding money.