The Race for Life weekend saw the team spend a great day at Asda Sinfin. We sold lots of wristbands, mugs and t-shirts, and we shook our donation tins as loudly as possible! We took £308 on the day, a fantastic amount of money. The day also gave us the opportunity to talk to customers and promote our group. We'll be back again on Saturday 30 August. This time we'll be bag packing. And so to the Race for Life event itself. Here's a summary of the day from Ali:
It was a pretty overcast and grey start to the day when we made our way to Darley Park in Derby for the home town Race for Life. Dressed in pyjamas and decorative head wear, it didn't take long for us to fit in with the steady stream of women in the uniform bright pinks arriving to battle cancer.
Race for Life is a very emotional day for most participants, for some it's a personal triumph, the first physical challenge after undergoing months of gruelling cancer treatments . It can be a celebration of survivorship of a loved one or sadly in many cases Race for Life participants are raising money in loving memory of the fallen ones. Although women are decked in the bright, fluffy, tutus and tiaras and the atmosphere is light and cheery, the sombre messages pinned to the bright t-shirts mingle with the declarations of war on this vile disease.
This year more than ever I noticed that many people had simply written I am racing for everyone or for a cure. With 1 in 3 of us diagnosed with cancer within our lifetimes, most people will have first hand experience of either a loved one or indeed themselves being diagnosed. For us, it was extremely poignant, a mere 7 months after Annabel's sad departure we were gathered with her close friends and family to remember her and there was a huge sense of pride standing there in our winged t-shirts and wristbands.
Before Simon took to the stage to share his story of Annabel, another group of local women were invited to share their stories from Tesco's, the occasion was overwhelming for some and listening I felt the raw pain and emotion of the story of her friend's struggling with an advanced cancer. Breast Cancer isn't pink and fluffy, it can be debilitating and by sharing stories it helps to provide people with a greater insight to the challenges that being diagnosed with cancer can bring. The one minute silence before the start of race was no doubt filled with silent or whispered prayers to our dearly departed loved ones.
Around 10.30 am, amongst a sea of cerise pink, neon wigs and excited faces, Simon, Will and Sam, Annabel's son's,announced the start of the race with a count down and a fierce declaration of 'Cancer we're coming to get you !!' The sun decided to burst through the earlier haze and beat down on the 4,000 plus women and children as they burst through the start.
To stay it was hot would be an understatement, it was a glorious day in Darley Park and as we made our way around the 5km we were grateful for the shady interludes as a reprieve from the strong rays of the sun. Annabel's Angels home team was a fantastic representation of friends and family, Will and Sam's teachers, some of us has travelled from far and wide. Aberdeen, Folkestone and London Angel's rubbed shoulders and walked beside Derby Angels to celebrate Annabel's life.
There was a huge sense of unity and after crossing the finishing line, there were embraces and celebratory drinks. Whilst walking we chatted and shared stories of how we knew Annabel, wonderful stories of happy times, and the sun shone on us as if Annabel was there walking with us. I've attended a few Race for Life events in the past, but never felt such a welcoming atmosphere as at Darley Park, and we left the park making a commitment that we will all meet up and do this again - this will be an annual event.
Whilst I never had the good fortune to meet Annabel in person it is absolutely clear to see what a wonderful and inspiring woman she was, in fact still is, that she is bringing people together and helping others even now. Annabel we all thank you.