WAYNE Schwalbach thought he was walking into a weekend market or a fete at the North Tamworth oval about 10 years ago.
It was more akin to fate.
The Tamworth man quickly learnt he’d stumbled into the Relay for Life fundraiser.
Having lost his mother earlier that year, he knew he could take the baton and run with the cause.
Nearly a decade later, Mr Schwalbach is now the chairman of the Tamworth relay committee and his wife and daughters have been involved with the event ever since the first fateful stroll.
While it’s emotive event for cancer survivors, patients and their families, Mr Schwalbach wanted the community to remember it was a “party with a purpose”.
Registrations are now open for the Tamworth event and he also reminded folks the money raised in town would stay local and help to fund programs and services, such as Inala House Cancer Patient accommodation facility, Tamworth Transport to Treatment Service and Home Help.
From the first relay, Mr Schwalbach noted there “so many faces of people you wouldn’t have thought, or dreamed, of who had faced the same issue”.
“It’s a bastard of disease and so many more people will be affected,” he said.
He admitted it was becoming more of a challenge to raise funds with more charities than ever asking people to reach into their pockets.
“Every one is as good as the other,” he said.
“And everyone has a charity which is close to their heart.
“We’d be lost without our sponsors.”
This year’s event will start at 2pm on Saturday, March 24 at the Tamworth Paceway and run until 9am Sunday morning.
“We hope to achieve the success of the last Relay and as registrations and fundraising has commenced, we are well on the way to holding another wonderful Relay experience for all of this year’s participants,” Cancer Council community programs coordinator Robyn Cathcart said.
“It is an opportunity for the community of Tamworth to come together in the fight against cancer and to honour local cancer patients, survivors and carers.”
Organisers hope to raise $60,000 from Tamworth’s relay.
People can register online at www.relayforlife.org.au/tamworth or by contacting the Tamworth Cancer Council Office on 02 6763 0900.