Relay walkers streets ahead

READY TO RELAY: The 2010 Mad Hatters team included Jarrod Bleijie, his mother Christine and Leah Stepto. They are holding a picture of Sgt Linden Bleijie, of the Australian ISF, their brother, son and partner, who was stationed in East Timor. The event did a live cross to him last year.
READY TO RELAY: The 2010 Mad Hatters team included Jarrod Bleijie, his mother Christine and Leah Stepto. They are holding a picture of Sgt Linden Bleijie, of the Australian ISF, their brother, son and partner, who was stationed in East Timor. The event did a live cross to him last year. Bobgoulde

CANCER never sleeps. It never takes a break, never rests, and it keeps you up all night.

Relay for Life is a community fundraising event held overnight where teams take part in a relay-style walk for 18 hours to raise money for the cancer council.

It’s held overnight so participants can get a small insight into the tiring and arduous journey of a cancer sufferer.

This will be Kawana MP Jarrod Bleijie’s fifth Relay for Life. For him, participation is personal.

Ten years ago, his mother Christine was diagnosed with a melanoma.

“Cancer never really had a lot to do with our family until mum got cancer,” he said.

“It just goes to show cancer really can happen to anyone. Mum was never one to sunbake.”

Just a couple of weeks ago, Christine had her five-year scans and was given the all-clear.

But as anyone with cancer knows, it only takes one cell for cancer to begin to grow again.

“We’re just praying it doesn’t come back,” Mr Bleijie said.

He said that one thing his mother’s cancer journey had taught him was to make the most of life: “To live your life in the moment and appreciate every minute.”

He and his mother formed a team, The Mad Hatters, and have participated for the past five relays. They wear crazy hats and work hard to raise as much money as possible for the worthwhile cause.

Mr Bleijie said the relay could be tough but was nothing compared to what his mother and other cancer sufferers went through.

“The relay really epitomises what a person living with cancer goes through. Cancer never sleeps. It’s there all the time. It goes to bed with you,” he said.

But Mr Bleijie assures the event is not all about doom and gloom.

“It’s about celebrating the survivors, remembering those that have lost their life and about giving hope and inspiration,” he said.

“And it brings so many community members together for a great cause.”

Last year, the event raised $70,000 for the cancer council and Mr Bleijie hopes this year they can raise even more.

As an additional fundraiser, he will be taking part in Dunk a Politician where, at midnight, he will get dunked into a freezing tank of water.

A live feed will be taken on a big screen of participants at another Relay for Life event, either in far North Queensland or America.

“It’s going to be a big night,” Mr Bleijie said.

The 2011 Cancer Council Relay for Life Kawana event will be held at Stockland Park on Saturday.

To sponsor The Mad Hatters, visit

Topics:  lifestyle relay for life

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