Cairns CPA goes the long way around to raise money for cancer research

Daniela Marsh CPA and team at last year’s Relay for Life.

Cairns accountant Daniela Marsh CPA and her team literally go the long way around when raising money for cancer research - over 250 kilometres on foot. This is their story.

By Katie Langmore

It sounds like an act of madness – or at least something to send you mad – walking around and around a 400-metre running track for 18 hours straight. However, for many who participate in Relay for Life, it is an activity imbued with meaning.

Daniela Marsh CPA has taken part in the event since her best friend passed away from cancer five years ago. Each year she rallies colleagues to join her team of 10 and never has to work too hard to find willing volunteers. 

“You find that most people are touched by cancer in some way,” she says.

Daniela Marsh CPA.The team – all colleagues at GCG Accountants in Cairns, Queensland – spends months raising the entry fee and thousands more, making sure they avoid a last-minute rush during tax time, before the event in July. They also get busy printing team T-shirts.

“Teams go to a lot of effort choosing a theme and dressing up,” says Marsh. “This year our team was called An Answer for Cancer and our theme was ‘Run, Forrest, Run’ because for the last few years we’ve been the only team crazy enough to think it would be a good idea to run the whole time!”

Once there, the serious side of the event is acknowledged during the survivors’ walk and carers’ walk, when cancer survivors and those who have supported them do the first laps of the track, wearing a sash. 

“The whole track is packed with people who’ve survived cancer, from children to adults, every age group is present. It’s really moving and it’s a reminder why you’re there.”

Marsh says the event is also a lot of fun. At the Cairns event, participants set up tents in the centre of the field at Barlow Park and camp out for the night, enjoying a barbeque, DJs and bands while taking turns walking or jogging the course. In the case of Marsh’s team, that meant pounding the track for a phenomenal 252 kilometres over 631 laps.

Tucking the kids up to sleep in the back of the tents and talking through the night, she feels the event is always a great teambuilding exercise, as is the team’s annual day spent packing hampers for the Mayor’s Christmas Cheer Appeal.

“...if you’ve got your health and life is going well, it’s so important to give a bit of your time for those who are doing it a little tougher...”

“I think if you’ve got your health and life is going well, it’s so important to give a bit of your time for those who are doing it a little tougher. We can all make a difference,” says Marsh, adding that she would like to see more people give their time. 

“Whether it’s for a charity, your local school, professional association or mentoring.”

It was partly for this reason that she also joined the CPA Far North Queensland branch committee, later becoming chair. 

“I feel quite strongly about supporting people early in their career. Sometimes there isn’t enough opportunity to mentor young accountants in the workplace, especially in public practice, so this is one way I can support them.”

She also joined the branch because she had become a part owner in her firm and wanted to network and raise her public profile. Volunteering time is a great way to meet people, she says.

“I’ve made so many contacts and met so many lovely people through the committee.”

Find a finance-related volunteer role

Relay for life

Cancer Council Australia’s Relay for Life is a team fundraising event for cancer patients and cancer research and programs. Some 200 events are held around Australia each year, ranging in length from six to 24 hours. Teams are asked to walk, roll or run continuously around a track, to signify that cancer never sleeps. 

To get involved and find an event near you in 2019, go to www.relayforlife.org.au

Read next: From breast cancer to top fundraiser


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