Committee chair Rowena Dionysius is amazed that the South Burnett Relay For Life has raised more tha $1.7 million over the past 15 years
Face Of Relay Sheva Butler shared her emotional journey ahead of the candlelight ceremony

October 11, 2021

The 2021 South Burnett Relay For Life fundraising campaign has so far raised just over $72,500 for cancer research … an amazing effort considering the popular Dinner With The Captains had to be cancelled due to lockdowns.

Even more amazing is the fact that Saturday’s main day at Kingaroy Showgrounds pushed the South Burnett’s total fundraising over the past 15 years to more than $1.7 million!

South Burnett committee chair Rowena Dionysius told it was incredible to realise local support for Relay had averaged about $113,000 a year.

This year, 25 teams took part which meant about 400 participants, down on the usual figure of about 40 teams.

However, Rowena is still hopeful the 2021 fundraising total could still push towards the $100,000 mark.

Not all the money raised is in, and there is still an online auction – held to replace the Dinner With The Captains – which will be run on CROW-FM on November 19.

The biggest single fundraising event this year was the Ride 4 Relay which raised almost $32,000 by itself.

The “2021 Cancer Free Future” team – headed by Rowena – was the next most successful, raising more than $7200 and busting its $2000 target.

Relay For Life raises funds for Cancer Council Queensland, which uses the money for research, prevention, information and support services. 

It was emphasised on Saturday that Australia may have been in lockdown over the past 12 months but cancer hasn’t been.

Tara Evans, from Cancer Council Queensland, told the crowd that one person is diagnosed with cancer in Queensland every 20 minutes.

Thousands of people around Australia take part in Relay For Life events every year but they are more than just fundraisers.

Relay also celebrates the lives of cancer survivors, supports people fighting cancer and honours those who have died.

2021 South Burnett Face Of Relay Sheva Butler, from Wondai, shared her story from the stage.

Sheva, who works as a teacher, was diagnosed with cancer in 2017, changing her world.

“It’s really scary having cancer and as much as I tell everybody that I took it on the chin, I actually didn’t,” she said.

She described the moments of sheer terror, the emergency helicopter flight when her family was told she might not make it, the rounds of chemotherapy, the drug reactions …

“I’m here but nothing that I did is the reason that I am here. It was all the doctors that knew what to do.

“The money that you guys are raising for Relay For Life and Ride 4 Relay all go towards that, so thank you.

“Because if it wasn’t for people like you supporting this, the money wouldn’t be in the research and I might not be here today.

“So thank you very much, guys, and give yourselves a clap.”


Four members of the Birds Of A Feather team … Margaret Stewart, Kumbia; Jan Lamborn, Kingaroy; Elaine Gurney, Kingaroy; and Shirley Wieden, Kingaroy
Getting ready for the Survivors’ Lap were Pam Young, Ellesmere; and Ella Boynton, Kingaroy
Compere Cr Danita Potter with Niketa Law and her father, Wakka Wakka Elder Eric Law AM … Eric, a former Face Of Relay, did the Welcome To Country, suggesting the 2021 NAIDOC and Reconciliation Week themes, which touch on taking action and healing, seemed very appropriate for Relay For Life
Sam Beaumont and Kay Swannson were staying sun safe, hoisting umbrellas and donning sunglasses
Eileen and John Kefford and Kay and Ralph Clark, from Kingaroy, were also dressed in the Relay For Life theme colours of purple and yellow
The “Game Of Thrift” team was made up of members of the McDonald, Emslie and Carty families
There was a strong turnout of students from Kingaroy State High School taking part
The Kingaroy State High School “Honeybees” team
Relay For Life patron Carl Rackemann, Uncle Eric Law AM, 2021 Face Of Relay Sheva Butler and Tara Evans, Cancer Council Queensland
Wayne Darr, from the South Burnett Caledonian Pipe Band, piped the walkers around the track on the initial lap of the 2021 South Burnett Relay For Life, the traditional Survivors & Carers Walk
Onlookers applauded as the walkers completed the Survivors & Carers Walk lap
Susan Jarvis was part of the South Burnett Regional Council team
Joan Northcott, Ironpot, and Marie Shaw, Kingaroy, with the “Birds Of A Feather” banner which makes an appearance every year
Ros Heit, Wooroolin; Michelle Hansen, Kingaroy; and South Burnett breast cancer nurse Sue Cox
The Kingaroy State High School band also provided live music on stage
It was the turn of the Wooroolin Lions to man the Kingaroy Showgrounds canteen

* * *

Evening Ceremony

The 2021 South Burnett Relay For Life was shortened due to changes implemented by Cancer Council Queensland to mirror COVID restrictions during the planning phase.

But that didn’t stop all the traditional activities taking place ahead of the 8:00pm closure.

There was music on the stage and the emotional candlelight ceremony went ahead as usual at dusk.

Three candles were lit, words were shared from the stage and minute’s silence held.

A small table became a focal point:

“The table is small, symbolising the frailty of a single patient, sometimes alone in the fight against their disease.

“The tablecloth is white, symbolic of the medical profession. Doctors, nurses, researchers and all who help fight the battle for life.

“The single rose in the vase signifies the enduring love of family and friends and the strength of a patient’s will to fight.

“A slice of lemon on the plate reminds us of the bitter battle fought by new patients each year.

“The salt sprinkled on the plate reminds us of the countless tears of personal anguish shared by the patient and those shared by family and friends who have lost a loved one.

“But the flickering candles represent the light of hope that lives in the hearts if all of us. Hope represented by cancer survivors and the hope for a cure as a result of all the new and continual research funded by events like this.”  

RYZA and friends provided live music on stage during the evening
The Relay continued as the sun went down … plumber Todd Fiedler was pushing a bathtub and shower around the track with daughters Ellie, 6, and Ruby, 8, hitching a ride; earlier in the day Mayor Brett Otto also did a lap in the tub
Member for Nanango Deb Frecklington, second from left, was one of the presenters during the candlelight ceremony .. she’s pictured with musicians Darren Schmidt and Clare and Rob Fitz-Herbert

Still walking as the sun set … Gugulethu Majakajaka, Kingaroy, and Ashleigh Rickert, Nanango

The small table … with lemon, salt, a white tablecloth and a single flower
The Relay For Life candlelight ceremony is a time for remembrance but also has a focus on hope

* * *

Mayoral Walk

South Burnett Mayor Brett Otto convinced Cr Kathy Duff to join him on a fundraising walk from Murgon to Kingaroy to raise funds for the South Burnett Regional Council’s Relay For Life team.

Members of the media joined him for sections of the walk.

Mayor Otto and Cr Duff left Murgon at 11:00pm on Friday and walked throughout the night along the South Burnett Rail Trail to reach Kingaroy in time for the Relay For Life opening ceremony.

The pair were accompanied by a support vehicle, driven along the Bunya Highway by Sharon Trim, and two pushbikes, ridden by paramedic Kerrie Le Du (Salus Group) and Mayor Otto’s father, Trevor.

Mayor Otto and Cr Kathy Duff on the home stretch heading into Kingaroy on Saturday morning
Cr Duff and Mayor Otto with their support riders on the rail trail just outside Kingaroy
At Kingaroy at last … from left, Trevor Otto, Cr Kathy Duff, Mayor Brett Otto, Sharon Trim and Kerrie Le Du

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One Response to "Relay Celebrates 15 Years and $1.7m"

  1. Steph Stevens  October 15, 2021

    A wonderful effort as always from Chair, Rowena Dionysius, & her Organising Committee of the South Burnett Relay for Life!

    Because of COVID-19 restrictions, it was a much more complex & challenging job than in previous years. Sincere congratulations for all of your hard work & dedication working towards a Cancer Free Future.

    All South Burnett Relay Teams put in a valiant effort to raise much-needed funds for Cancer Council Queensland to continue their focus on better treatments, better awareness, better outcomes & better support for all Queenslanders living with a cancer diagnosis.

    Congratulations & heartfelt gratitude to all involved.

    We welcome new members with open arms. 0419 649 226
    Steph Stevens (Secretary)
    Birds of a Feather Cancer Support Group (South Burnett)


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