Annual Wollongong Relay for Life expected to raise more than $100,000

Illawarra residents put their best foot forward for a vital cause on the weekend, raising more than $100,000 in the process. 

This group included a Fairy Meadow man who took to the track at Kerryn McCann Athletics Centre (Beaton Park) to walk the entire 24 hours of the Wollongong Relay for Life. 

Relay for Life is an overnight, community event whereby teams participate in a relay-style walk or run to raise funds for Cancer Council NSW.

Participants can walk as many laps as they wish, but Peter McNamee, 60, elected to tackle the entire 24 hours. 

Mr McNamee, representing the Good Samaritan Catholic Primary School team, was the sole 24-hour walker at this year’s Relay. 

Mr McNamee’s mother Fay died in 2006 following a battle with an aggressive form of skin cancer. 

“She’s been going through my mind a lot (during the Relay), definitely,” he said. 

Close to a thousand participants took part in this year's Wollongong Relay for Life. Picture: Adam McLean

Close to a thousand participants took part in this year's Wollongong Relay for Life. Picture: Adam McLean

He was supported by family and friends at various points throughout the 24-hour walk, even as the temperature dropped on Saturday night. 

“It’s something I haven’t got off my bucket list, and I’ve done a lot of other walks,” Mr McNamee said as he completed his final lap. 

“The people have been fantastic (throughout).

“I’m feeling a little bit sore in the feet, but otherwise I’m not too bad.

GREAT EFFORT: Peter McNamee and Grant Plecas after the completion of the final lap on Sunday. Picture: Brendan Crabb

GREAT EFFORT: Peter McNamee and Grant Plecas after the completion of the final lap on Sunday. Picture: Brendan Crabb

“(When I finish) I’ll go home, hop in the bath, hit the bed and that’ll be it.”

The annual Wollongong Relay was in its 18th year in 2018. 

Cancer Council NSW Southern Region community lead Grant Plecas said they’d had close to a thousand participants this year. 

Speaking on Sunday, he told the Mercury that they’d already raised about $80,000.

However, he said that figure would exceed $100,000 when more registrations and fundraising during the event were included in the tally. 

“We had a really good roll-up yesterday prior to the wind taking charge,” he said. 

“Before that the weather was awesome, and that brought in a whole lot of people.

“The wind did knock around the numbers, but the atmosphere was great. They’re so resilient, the people that come to this event. They’re here for the cause and nothing stops them.”

Mr Plecas said organisers would be seeking community feedback regarding any potential changes to the event in the future. 

“We’ll definitely make some changes; if it’s not the venue, it’ll be how we how have it set it up and run it,” he said. 

“We want to innovate to make sure we keep going for many more years yet.”