by Larry Austin
The Grand Island Relay For Life is on its way toward the $2 million mark following its 10th successful Relay.
Island Relay For Life Co-chairwomen Candy Mye, Lynn Dingey and Becky Sommer-Stufkosky said the American Cancer Society fundraiser on June 8 had a carnival-style atmosphere this year, perhaps because, in its 10th edition, it passed the $1 million mark for funds raised on the Island.
"I just think the Relay itself this year was just unbelievable, overwhelming," Sommer-Stufkosky said. "It just had a different feel this year."
Mye said she felt it was as if it "raining money" that night. Relay 2012 has passed the $156,000 mark in money raised this year for the American Cancer Society, with money from the Fathers Day Lawn Mower Race and other subsequent events still to be counted.
The event's success is reflected in several measures:
•"We had this year probably 200 more participants than we had than last year, which is an incredible amount," Mye said, a total of 634.
•The event had twice as many survivors participating, nearly 120, Mye said.
•Participation from off-Islanders was up. Mye said the event drew people coming from Tonawanda and Lockport; even a group of kids from the Williamsville School District, Dingey noted. Newcomers to the Island Relay "were walking up to me saying, 'Oh, my gosh. This is amazing, this is incredible,'" Sommer-Stufkosky said.
•The overnight participation was strong at the Grand Island High School track on Masters Field. "We had 56 people at 5 a.m.," Dingey said.
•"We sold more luminarias than expected," Mye said of the candles that ring the track in honor of those who died from cancer. An estimated 1,500 to 1,600 luminarias were purchased. "And we fought the wind to keep them standing up," Dingey said.
"It's amazing when you see the track all lit up like that," Dingey said.
The co-chairs were grateful for the many volunteers, teams and supporters who made the event what it was. "You can't say thank you enough," Mye said.