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  • Inaugural Sharjah 24-hour walkathon at American University of Sharjah
  • Sharjah will be the first city in the MENA region to host global event that spans 29 countries
  • Walk will raise awareness about cancer and encourage community collaboration to fight disease
  • Two-day event is inspired by the Relay for Life event organised by the American Cancer Society since 1985

For immediate release

Sharjah, April 24, 2017

Friends of Cancer Patients (FoCP), a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to fighting cancer, has announced the launch of the UAE ‘Relay for Life’ walkathon – a 24-hour walking challenge that is being held for the first time in the MENA region. Scheduled to take place November 17-18, 2017 at American University of Sharjah, the inaugural activity has been conceived in support of cancer patients and their families in the UAE.

In the coming period, the association will organise a series of activities, workshops and events to drive participation in the initiative. It will include a number of visits to universities, schools and official and civil institutions around the UAE and will host a number of personalities attending awareness, educational and humanitarian aid workshops in preparation for the march. These awareness events will conclude with the march on November 17-18, 2017.

Organised in collaboration with the American Cancer Society, Relay for Life in Sharjah was revealed during a press conference held by FoCP on Tuesday at Al Noor Island. Attending the event were HE Sawsan Jafar, Chairperson of FoCP’s Board of Directors; Dr. Moza Al Shehhi, Dean of Students Affairs at American University of Sharjah; Dr. Sawsan Al Madhi, Director General of FoCP; Sheikha Jawaher bint Abdulla Al Qasimi, FoCP Board Member, Badr Al Jaaidi, Events and Logistics Executive at FoCP and representatives of American University of Sharjah, as well as a number of FoCP members and local and Arab media personnel.

During the conference, a background to Relay for Life was outlined, with participants explaining how the event has originated in the USA back in 1985. Organised by a colorectal surgeon Dr. Gordy Klatt, the first ever event raised $27,000 for his local cancer charity but since then has gone on to become the largest fundraising event for cancer in the world. Currently taking place in 29 countries, Relay for Life has to date raised more than $5 billion (AED18.3 billion) in support of cancer patients worldwide.

“We are delighted to announce the MENA region’s first ever Relay for Life in collaboration with the American Cancer Society. This walkathon will mark a new phase of the existing cooperation between our two societies and is in perfect alignment with the UAE’s Year of Giving. The launch of this initiative was inspired by the vision of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, to position Sharjah as a beacon of compassion, humanity and hope,” said HE Sawsan Jafar.

“Relay for Life aims to promote community solidarity with cancer patients and their families who go through severe discomfort and distress, with the overnight element of the walk designed to promote community solidarity to “Remember” the loved ones lost to cancer, “Celebrate” the advancement of science and survivorship, and to stand as one through raising awareness and funds to “Fight Cancer”. We encourage everyone, young and old to join us at American University of Sharjah on November 17-18 to show their community spirit and their commitment to fighting cancer,” she added.

Dr. Sawsan Al Madhi pointed out that Relay for Life would raise funds for cancer patients in the UAE through two main ways; the first being through the registration fee for participation in the challenge and the second through the individual “Relayers” and team fundraising activities, with all proceeds going towards supporting cancer patients and their families.

Badr Al Jaaidi noted that the ‘Relay for Life’ event will feature a series of sporting activities aiming at enhancing the feelings of community members about the suffering of patients and encouraging patients to bravely fight the disease and raising their hope. Al Juaidi called on those who want to participate in the walk to visit the website: www.focp.ae/relayforlife which allows them to register their names and provide them with overall information about the initiative, its aims and conditions of participation.

Stating his education institution’s commitment to all aspects of the community that it operates in, Dr. Björn Kjerfve said: “Since its inception, American University of Sharjah has sought to forge strong partnerships with organisations such as Friends of Cancer Patients, which play such an important role in providing solutions to the challenges facing society. We are proud to be a part of this campaign with FoCP and to be able to provide our full support in hosting this important event on our campus.”

During her speech, Dr. Moza Al Shehhi, Dean of Students Affairs at the American University of Sharjah (AUS), said: “What the wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah, Her Highness Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Founder and Royal Patron of the Friends of Cancer Patients (FoCP), has always been emphasising is true. Cancer is not an unsolvable problem anymore, but the increase in numbers of cancer patients, makes it a social and humanitarian case in which all individuals and entities should engage, with the aim of supporting cancer patients and their families. The AUS is always keen to participate in humanitarian and awareness initiatives, in line with its responsibility towards the community, and I would like to thank the FoCP for giving us the privilege to participate in organising the ‘Relay for Life’ initiative, which aims to achieve great humanitarian objectives.”

Founded in 1999, FoCP has provided medical treatment and financial and moral support for more than 3,700 cancer patients and their families. Those wishing to join with the organisation and participate in the first ever Relay for Life in the MENA region can visit the website: www.focp.ae/relayforlife, which allows them to register their names and provides them with information about the initiative, its aims and conditions of participation.