by Mark Dryfhout
Cancer does not rest, and this year's Relay For Life won't either! Returning this year, with intent to surpass the ample success of last year's event, the Relay For Life festival of Lewiston/Niagara will take place at a new location, Reservoir State Park, on Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 3-4, from 1 p.m. to 6 a.m.
Admission to the event itself is absolutely free of charge, and visitors are invited to come and go as they please.
Tami Gabri, American Cancer Society staff partner, explains the reasoning behind the relocation of this year's Relay, "We really want to expand this Relay ... we really want to reach out to Wheatfield, Sanborn and Niagara."
Also a factor in the decision, last year's Relay struggled to work around other major Lew-Port events, which took its toll on the Relay staff, Gabri said. Regardless, she remains sure the new location is ideal for this year's fundraiser.
"It's centrally located; there is security there; and we can camp overnight," she said. "We felt the new location would be best for everyone."
Regardless of location, this year's Relay will still include the signature events that identify Relay For Life as a nationwide fundraiser. These events include a survivor luncheon, the caregiver ceremony, victory lap, open walks, luminaria ceremony and a "Fight Back" ceremony. Alternatively, guests can enjoy the contests, activities, concessions, attractions, music and auctions the event has to offer. Musical performances for this year's Relay are provided by Average at Best, High Horse and Fourth Wall.
Relay For Life is a nationwide fundraising event for the American Cancer Society that raises money to help fight the battle against cancer by donating funds to cancer treatment and research centers.
"Relay For Life celebrates cancer survivors, remembers loved ones lost, and allows everyone a chance to fight back against cancer," one description reads.
Independent teams, whose members raise money prior to the Relay in their communities, gather the bulk of money raised for the event. Every year, Relay For Life raises more than $400 million across the country, and has raised more than $4 billion since its creation in 1985.There are currently 5,100 events nationwide, hosted in more than 20 countries worldwide, and is the largest fundraising event in the world.
Organizers of the Lewiston/Niagara Relay For Life hope to make their contribution by attempting to raise the standard to $86,000 for the ACS.
Regardless of turnout, Relay Chairwoman Christina Harris, said she is optimistic. "We have a lot to be thankful for. ... Our goal was $79,000 last year, and we raised $83,728."
The Lewiston/Niagara teams are already hard at work attempting to surpass a new goal. Currently, 11 teams and 52 participants have reported a total collection of $17,885. Keep in mind, the estimate does not reflect the final outcome, and many donations have yet to be accounted for.
"Thank you to all of our hardworking fundraisers," Harris said.
For more information about how to register a team, become involved, or how to attend this year's Relay, visit the Relay For Life website, www.RelayForLife.org/LewistonNY. If you have any questions you can't seem to find an answer to, direct your inquiry to the [email protected]. If you or anybody you know feels inspired to donate, you can send your monetary gifts by mail to American Cancer Society, Attn: RFL of Lewiston, 101 John James Audubon Pkwy, Amherst, NY, 14228.
Please keep in mind that the Relay For Life festival is a family event, so alcohol, tobacco and other adult substances are strictly prohibited.
Come prepared to fight whatever the weather may have in store for the event, because the festival will proceed rain or shine. Be sure to tell friends and family about this wonderful opportunity to fight back against cancer in a constructive way!