01 April 2015
Relay For Life is an amazing sight of colour, excitement and passion as thousands of people, take on the challenge of keeping their team’s baton, and symbol of hope, moving around the track for 19 hours.
Mr Petersen began his Relay journey as a volunteer in 2004 after his best friend and ‘Gramps’ ultimately lost his cancer battle.
His passion to continue his Grandfather’s fight encouraged him to move into the volunteer Entertainment Coordinator role after starting as main stage ‘MC’.
After getting a taste of the magic that is Relay, Andrew decided to leave his job and apply for a full time role at Cancer Council SA.
The Project Officer role works closely with local communities to empower them to run their own Relay For Life events.
“I do it for Gramps and the whole cancer community,” Andrew said.
“Gramps was a double cancer survivor, prostate and lymphoma. It was very hard for him and Nanna but he soldiered on like a trooper.”
Andrew explains the fire he has for working towards the common goal of one day beating cancer.
“When he lost his battle, it was (and is to this day), one of the saddest days of my life. I made a promise to him that my fight with cancer was now on and it was now personal.”
Having had cancer affect too many of his loved ones, ‘Drew’ as he is affectionately known, decided to raise up an army of people to join his fight.
“I have an army of cancer fighting friends – united as one, ready to take it to cancer. Our mission is to raise as much money as we can to ensure Cancer Council can fight and deliver its mission to beat it.”
For 11 years, fundraising and coordinating the Relay For Life events has given Drew a great sense of empowerment.
He decided early to do this to the best of his ability raising thousands of dollars himself, helping people with their efforts and putting on outstanding events to celebrate those efforts.
“Donations will make it all worthwhile but more importantly, it will change the lives of those who faced cancer today and those who will need to be ready to face it tomorrow,” he says.
On Saturday May 2, over 2000 people will come together at Adelaide Showgrounds and join together as a symbol of hope.
The two days include an opening ceremony (2pm Saturday) where the first lap is completed by survivors and carers, as well as a Candlelight Ceremony on Saturday evening remembering those who have lost their battles.
Cancer Council SA Chief Executive, Professor Brenda Wilson, said the event is all about the community coming together.
“This event has a very strong community spirit. It brings the whole community together - survivors and carers, the young and the old – all with the common goal of bringing the defeat of cancer closer!” Professor Wilson said.
“The money raised through Relay helps build a future without cancer by funding critical research and prevention programs and enabling us to provide local support services and resources for families dealing with cancer.”
Professor Wilson also said Andrew’s efforts should be applauded.
“Andrew is an incredible inspiration as he continues to encourage others and puts everything he has into these events. His enormous effort over the past 11 years is something to celebrate.”
Andrew encourages those who have never taken part in a Relay before to come and see what the fuss is about on Saturday.
“There are not many events where you can witness a global movement of hope in action. Why not check it out,” he added.
The 140 teams hope to raise a staggering $350,000 for Cancer Council SA.