‘‘LIFE goes on — so live for me now.’’
That was what Gina Spizzica’s father, Tony, told her before he died after a battle with oesophageal cancer in November.
And that is exactly what she has been doing in what has been the toughest eight months of her life.
‘‘It was kind of his life motto, and as well as living for him I have been living for myself, too,’’ Gina said.
‘‘It has been really tough but I just kept myself busy and kept up with my schooling, which is what Dad would have wanted.
‘‘I’ve just been crawling through.’’
The 17 year old from Elmore is the youngest of eight children and began her year 12 studies at Rochester Secondary College just three months after her father died.
And now she wants to give back.
‘‘I have started the Relay For Life team Rochy4Spizz with a group of my friends in honour of Dad,’’ Gina said.
‘‘As a family we received a lot of support from different cancer services and I think Dad would be really proud that I have stepped up and we have all pulled together.
‘‘I thought I had no other reason than to give back and try and raise some money to help support another family going through what we went through.’’
The 2017 Echuca-Moama Relay For Life, which takes place in October, has for the first time an award dedicated to Gina’s father.
The Tony Spizzica Memorial Award aims to encourage schools to get involved, working in a team environment and developing understanding of key Cancer Council messages while having fun.
‘‘It is very special to have the award dedicated to Dad,’’ Gina said.
‘‘It shows his legacy lives on and that he meant so much to others.
‘‘It is amazing for all of us and I am glad I will be there when they award the first one.’’
Tony was a music teacher at Echuca College and Gina wants to follow in his footsteps and study teaching.
‘‘After school I want to go to university and study to be a home economics teacher,’’ she said.
‘‘But at the moment I am just getting through year 12 and concentrating on working hard.’’
Although Relay For Life isn’t until October organisers are urging more Rochester and district teams to put their hand up and register.
Community engagement liaison Ayden Shaw said the event lost some of its spark last year.
‘‘We have people who have done it for a long time and they continue to come back but last year the atmosphere was lacking and we want the community to remember what the relay is all about,’’ Mr Shaw said.
‘‘At its core Relay For Life isn’t an event but rather an experience.
‘‘It is an overnight relay that aims to mirror a cancer person’s journey, but it is also a way for the community to come together and celebrate.’’
Mr Shaw said the event is open to people from the district and invites the smaller communities to band together. ‘‘It would be great to see teams from outside the Echuca-Moama township,’’ he said.
■To register or to donate visit fundraising.cancer.org.au/echucamoama