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Candle-bags lit up in memory of those who have lost their lives to cancer during last week's Relay for Life in Geraldine. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Geraldine’s first Relay for Life event is being hailed a success after raking in $81,000.

The South Canterbury Cancer Society held the event at the Geraldine Rugby Football Club last weekend, which marked the start of a new concept to allow various towns to share hosting rights.

Society manager Leola Smith said the outcome exceeded all her expectations.

“It was great,” she said.

“It had the most beautiful vibe to it.

“We couldn’t be more happy,” she said.

“We’re blown away. It exceeded all my expectations and more.”

The relay, a fundraising initiative, aims to benefit people throughout South Canterbury who have cancer, including more than 20 patients in Geraldine.

Organisers had hoped 20 teams would register for this year’s new location, but said 25 would be “great”, just weeks out from the event.

However, keen participants exceeded that number by 14 teams, all of which had to have one participant walking at any one time.

An estimated 2000 people were at the relay throughout the day to support the cause and the many teams, Ms Smith said.

“Lots of people came in for the survivors lap and a lot of people came in for the candle-lighting ceremony,” she said.

“For me, the highlight was [how the] community got in behind it with 39 teams and $81,000 raised was just outstanding. It was phenomenal.

“People have made comments and given feedback that the candle-lighting ceremony was moving.”

Next year’s event will return to Timaru’s Caroline Bay in March, and will head south to Waimate for the first time in 2020.