Butterflies, unicorns, pirates and dinosaurs hit the track at Claudelands Oval in Hamilton on Saturday in support of Kiwis affected by cancer.
A total of 76 teams took on the challenge to keep their team baton moving around the track for 12 hours at the Cancer Society's annual Relay For Life fundraiser.
They were joined by more than 180 cancer survivors and carers, who led the opening lap.
The evening was marked by an emotional candlelight ceremony as participants placed decorated candle bags around the track to honour loved ones lost to cancer.
Chief executive of the Waikato/Bay of Plenty Cancer Society, Shelley Campbell, said the fundraising spirit at this year's event has been exceptional in a time of need.
AdvertisementAdvertise with NZME.
"It's no secret it's been a tough year for many charities because of Covid-19. We saw an increase in demand for our services during lockdown last year and we've been incredibly focused on supporting people, not just through their cancer experience but also through the uncertainties around Covid," says Ms Campbell.
She says final figures are still being tallied but the amount raised from the event will total more than $150,000.
"The impact of Relay For Life cannot be overstated. The money raised enables us to provide supportive care to local families, fund much-needed cancer research and deliver health promotion programmes to help reduce cancer in our community."
The Cancer Society provides a range of free services for people impacted by cancer including transport to medical appointments, and accommodation and meals at the Cancer Society's Lions Lodge for people travelling long distances for treatment at Waikato Hospital.
Supportive care nurses also provide one-on-one support and deliver education programmes and support groups in the community.
Ms Campbell says the success of Relay For Life is in large part due to the remarkable generosity of the community uniting to reduce the impact of cancer.
"We'd like to say a huge thank you to everyone who donated funds this year as well as all the teams, dedicated volunteers and sponsors who made Relay For Life 2021 possible."