By Jeff Cole
Cancer survivors and local community members will soon walk towards the goal of stomping out cancer in this year’s Relay For Life fundraiser.
The event will be held from noon to midnight June 2 at Ellicottville Central School, 5873 Route 219, and will feature a “Passport for Cure” theme in which teams that camp out will decorate their campsites according to their given countries. Emily Salim, co-chair of the relay, said that the registration fee is $10 per team participant.
“If you just want to come the day of the event and not join a team, it’s completely free,” she said. “The $10 (fee) is like if you want to start a team and have a campsite and do fundraising the day of the event. If you just want to come for like an hour the day of the event and not join a team, there is no fee.”
Though a complete schedule of events is not expected to be finalized until next week, the relay is slated to begin at noon with an opening ceremony, followed by a “survivors lap” at 12:15 p.m., when cancer survivors will be cheered on while walking along the school’s quarter-mile-long track. The survivors’ caregivers will join them for the next lap and the teams and other participants will then follow suit. All participants will be able to walk along the track until cleanup time at about 11:30 p.m.
Other activities will also take place during the event, according to Crystal Page, director of special events for the American Cancer Society, including a chicken barbecue, live music, other fundraisers and gift basket raffles. Page said that a luminaria ceremony, in which candles are placed inside personalized white bags and lit and participants often walk a lap in silence, will be held at 9:15 p.m.
“This ceremony is to honor, remember and take a minute to reflect on the loved ones that we have lost or those who are currently battling cancer or those who have won their fight,” she said.
Salim said each luminaria bag will cost $5 and noted that proceeds from the event will benefit the American Cancer Society’s programs and cancer research. Last year, according to Salim, about $48,000 was raised.
“This year we hope to raise $51,000 and we’re at about $20,000 already,” said Salim, who added that team members’ various fundraising efforts such as bake sales, yard sales and craft shows have amounted to this year’s current total.
With rain showers forcing some people to evacuate last year’s relay early, Salim said she is hoping for “good weather and a good turnout” this year. Relay For Life, according to Page, is not just an event, but rather a true experience.
“Everyone has been touched by cancer some way or another. This is one event that just kind of brings everyone together,” she said.
For more information on Relay For Life or to register for this event, visit www.relayforlife.org/cattarauguscountyny.