19 February 2018
For Jarrad Fraser, maths teacher and Immanuel College Relay Coordinator, getting involved in Relay For Life started out as a favour over 11 years ago. This year, over 90 Immanuel College students will take part in Adelaide Central Relay For Life on 24 February.
“When I first started, I did it to support the Immanuel College team at the behest of a student. Really, I didn’t know what I was signing up for—the student said he needed an additional staff member for the team and would I be interested… so I said, sure why not? Flash forward 11 years and now—I would be very, very upset if I wasn’t involved in Relay somehow.
It is much more personal for me now. When I first started there were no personal reasons, no people I lit a candle for, no photos for the tribute. But now, 11 years later, I have lost three grandparents to different cancers. I have lost one uncle and another is undergoing treatment. I have a friend, who in her first year of teaching was diagnosed with breast cancer, and the most devastating of all, my niece was diagnosed last year with leukaemia. She turned six only a few weeks ago. I think watching my sister and her family go through chemotherapy and radiotherapy has cemented my position at Relay For Life at least for the next several years.”
Relay For Life is all about hope—coming together as a community and celebrating the hope of a future without cancer. Everyone at Relay has tales of hope. It is the light that even in the darkest of the night, you can still cling on to.
I cannot speak higher of the students at Immanuel College and their dedication to Relay For Life. Last year (2017) was our record size at over 170 students participating. At 10pm at night, it was a bit funny watching that many people walk past our tent sites and every 10th person would be an Immanuel student…it felt like we were everywhere. This year’s students are so dedicated. And not just to Relay For Life—Immanuel has a proud tradition of supporting many anti-cancer organisations, and I myself have a date with a razor near the end of March (Shave for a Cause)!
I think that doing something for a charity is important, and cancer impacts so many of us. Students look around them but sometimes they don’t see or understand the lives of even those closest to them. Relay opens their eyes to how devastating the effects of cancer can be. But it also opens their eyes to the hard work that is being done to combat it. It also helps them to realise that they are not alone.
The students who take part in Relay are changed by it. And once they go, they won’t stop; they will want to go back every year they can, and even Old Scholars continue their involvement after leaving. But more so, the students who attend Relay show a change in their compassion levels; they hear the stories, they walk with people and ask them about why they Relay, or sometimes they don’t have to ask. And they get this understanding that more will always need to be done… but hope is still there. For the one third of Immanuel students who have their own personal story (be it a family member or friend) they also get an invigoration of hope.
My message to others is that it's hard work… but so rewarding! My one tip would be to get organised early and get two passionate students to be your organisers. Don’t let anyone say it will be too hard—that’s part of the fun!
I’ve been involved with Relay for Life since 2006. Our progress this year, compared to others, has been a bit more of a challenge because of the earlier start date. Luckily we are starting to pick up momentum and I am hoping we will easily make our $10,000 aim.
In 2018, the Immanuel students are aiming to raise $10,000 towards cancer support, prevention and research through Cancer Council SA. You can support Jarrad and the team by donating or joining in, or registering your own Relay team at one of the many events around the country.