By Mary Heyl
On Saturday, June 6, Relay for Life of Cattaraugus County is taking place at Ellicottville Central School. Beginning at 11 a.m., Relay teams will begin walking around the track to raise funds and awareness for the American Cancer Society, an organization for which they have been raising money all year.
Didn’t form a Relay for Life team this year but still want to help? It’s easy and fun to get involved on the day of the event and even afterwards to raise money for this important cause.
According to Sherry Charlesworth, committee co-chair, many participants form teams to raise money throughout the year. Charlesworth has been involved with Relay for five years; her team, “Walk this Way,” has raised the most money to date towards the 2015 event’s $25,000.00 goal.
Year-round fundraisers include bake sales, yard sales, raffles and most recently a car show. On Sunday, May 31, “Walk this Way” organized the first Cruising Against Cancer Car Show at the Cattaraugus County fairgrounds in Little Valley. Despite the cool and rainy weather, Charlesworth said the event was well-attended and she is looking forward to next year’s car show!
What many people don’t realize is that there are multiple ways to get involved with Relay for Life besides forming a team to walk/run in the event. As in years past, Relay for Life of Cattaraugus County invites community members to stop by ECS and participate in the on-site activities and fundraisers all day.
“You can take part even if you’re not a registered participant,” said Charlesworth. “The different teams do fundraisers throughout the day, and anyone can stop by and take part in basket raffles, play games, buy raffle tickets and try the dunk tank!”
Another fun part of the day open to the public includes a fundraiser chicken barbecue, which starts at 3 p.m.
According to Charlesworth, Relay for Life events are a little bit different every year. At the Opening Ceremony, one individual is recognized as the year’s Honored Survivor who leads the Survivor Lap, which is walked by all cancer survivors in attendance.
This year’s survivor is Lori Babcock, who was first diagnosed with skin cancer in August of 2008. Wife and mother of two, Babcock is looking forward to sharing the story of her seven-year fight against stage IV melanoma on Saturday, as she cheers on others who share her fight.
Later in the evening, Shawna Gursky, 2014’s Honored Survivor, will be speaking about her battle with breast cancer, which she was diagnosed with two years ago at the age of 28. Other notable laps include the Caregivers Lap, and Charlesworth said that there will be laps named for specific individuals affected by cancer.
This year’s Relay for Life of Cattaraugus County has more teams and participants than years past, as Relay for Life of Springville has combined its teams with Cattaraugus County.
“It made more sense for us to combine two smaller events this year,” said Charlesworth, “so that we can keep costs, like tent rental, low and donate even more money to the American Cancer Society.”
Between Cattaraugus County’s and Springville’s participants, there are approximately 25 teams (more than 100 team members total) gearing up for Saturday’s events!
Relay for Life of Cattaraugus County is not just a one-day event, as fundraising continues even after Saturday. Charlesworth said community members can donate to Relay for Life through September by visiting relay.acsevents.org. There, visitors can search for a specific participant, team, or Relay for Life event and make a donation of any amount to the American Cancer Society. For more information about Relay for Life of Cattaraugus County, contact Laura Oakes, Community Manager of the Eastern Division of Relay for Life, at firstname.lastname@example.org.