Grand Island's Relay For Life committee rolled out a red carpet in kicking off the 2011 edition of the annual American Cancer Society fundraiser. The Island also discovered a new star in its honorary survivor.
Relay Chair Mary Dunbar-Daluisio announced during a kickoff gathering Tuesday that this year's theme is "Curtains Up for a Cure." Relay For Life takes place at Grand Island High School Friday and Saturday, June 3 and 4, beginning at 6:30 p.m. and ending the next morning at 6:30 a.m.
A Hollywood-style theme made a star of 6-year-old Ian Cameron, who was introduced as the 2011 honorary survivor for the GI Relay. The son of Dona and Robert Cameron, Ian was less than a year old when his mother found him in his crib paralyzed from the waist down. He was diagnosed with neuroblastoma when a sonogram revealed a lemon-sized mass near his spine. Six months of chemotherapy and several surgeries followed, Dona told the approximately 50 people at the kickoff meeting.
"The first time we walked Relay, my husband and I holding hands pulling Ian in his little train ... and everybody started clapping," Dona said. "The only way to describe it to me, it was a celebration of people's lives."
Sadly, some cancer patients Ian's age have passed away from the disease, Dona said. "I don't want to have to see anybody have to go through that with any loved one, no matter what age they are. So that's why we Relay, so not another family has to go through this."
GI's 50 teams and 560 participants last year raised $134,480, said the ACS's Jane Dent. GI has raised $819,000 since 2003. "We need to clone this Island," Dent said.