Now is time to build, join teams, organizers say
The Grand Island Relay For Life is on the cusp of shattering the $1 million mark in funds raised this year.
Though the event has averaged more than $100,000 a year in its nine years of existence, three new co-chairs said this week they aren't taking anything for granted.
"We're this close," said co-chair Becky Sommer-Stufkosky of the approximately $55,000 needed to crack the $1 million mark. She called the nine-year total an amazing amount given the small size of the community. She, Candy Mye and Lynn Dingey are trying to ramp up the enthusiasm this year as well as branch out to the mainland to communities like Kenmore and Tonawanda that don't have a local Relay in hopes that their residents will embrace the Island of Hope as their own.
The annual Relay kickoff event will take place Saturday morning, Feb. 11, in the Grand Island High School senior cafeteria at 10 a.m. The Relay will take place overnight on June 8 and 9 this year.
While the Relay is still nearly six months away, now is the perfect time, Dingey said, to start thinking about getting a team together. Dingey said prospective participants can visit www.relayforlife.org/grandislandny for more information. As well, Mye said the kickoff will provide a packet of information for team captains with ideas to raise money and generate sponsorships.
"Sometimes people just need that push. They want to participate, but they don't know how they can do the fundraising and how they can make their team work," Mye said.
Dingey, Mye and Sommer-Stufkosky joke that it takes three women to replace Mary Dunbar-Daluisio, the longtime chair of the event with Peter McMahon.
It's a joke because everyone knows the inestimable Queen Mary is irreplaceable. Dunbar-Daluisio is still with the Relay and will work with the survivors, they said.
Mye said GI is in the top three among fundraisers in the Western New York region. "Which is phenomenal. And we're just trying really hard to keep that enthusiasm going. And because there is kind of a shift in leadership, we want people to know it's not for lack of enthusiasm, but most Relays do change leadership actually more often than we have."