by Larry Austin
Islanders will decorate their homes and workplaces with purple to show their support for the American Cancer Society and Relay For Life.
"Paint the Town Purple" will take place April 26, said Jenna Stufkosky of the Grand Island Relay For Life. Volunteers will tie purple ribbons in the Town Commons and at Town Hall, and will sell purple bows at First Niagara Bank on Baseline Road from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Big bows are $5 each, and smaller bows are $1. Residents can also order them by calling Stufkosky at 716-774-8978. The money made from selling ribbons and bows goes to the American Cancer Society and its fight against cancer.
Decorating with purple "just shows that they're aware and that they support Relay For Life," Stufkosky said. She said many times when people buy a bow and decorate their house, it reminds them that the actual GI Relay For Life is coming up May 31 and June 1 in Veterans Park.
Relay purple ribbons are becoming like year-round Christmas lights on Grand Island.
"If you go around Woodstream (Drive), they're actually still up from last year," noted Jenna's mother, Becky Stufkosky. "A lot people keep them up. They live through the winter."
"There's one on my street that was around one of the poles and was there for years and years and years," Jenna added.
Like that ribbon on her street, Jenna Stufkosky has been part of the war on cancer for years, having learned at a young age what cancer was, through her older sister, Alicia Sommer.
"I started Relay For Life when I was in third grade," Stufkosky said. "My sister got involved in it. My sister, when she was a baby, had neuroblastoma, stage 3. I wasn't alive, but (cancer) really affected my family at the time. As I grew up, I just always knew what cancer was."
"And then my grandma was diagnosed with it, my papa was diagnosed with it, my aunt was diagnosed with it, and eventually my father was diagnosed with it."
"And just so many people in my family have been touched with it, so many people around the world, they know what cancer is. And there is nothing worse than hearing the words, 'You have cancer,' or, 'Your father has cancer.' It's just the most serious thing you can possibly imagine."
"And it just became a part of something I did every day," she said.
While others may "Relay" one weekend out the year, Stufkosky, like the ribbon that rings the pole on her street, Relays all year.
"You're fundraising, you're raising awareness, you're getting the word out there, just doing anything you can do to stop cancer. That's why I Relay."