Grand Island's 12th annual Relay For Life is here, and Island residents are buzzing with excitement. For the last few months, teams have been collecting bottles, selling barbecue chicken, holding bake sales and raffling various baskets all to raise money for cancer research and prevention.
As the American Cancer Society's largest fundraiser, Relay For Life has become a global event in more than 20 different countries each year. Locally, Relay is set to open at 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 31, on Grand Island. It will run overnight until 2 a.m. June 1 at Veterans Park. Special parking for all survivors and handicapped participants will be provided at the Memorial Library parking lot and the lot below it near the soccer fields along Bedell Road. No parking is allowed on Bedell Road itself. All other participants should use the entrance for Veterans Park off of Baseline Road and use the surrounding soccer parking lots or surrounding neighborhoods.
Adopting a Rock-Out Cancer theme for this year's event, organizers have lined up a variety of performances throughout the night. DJ Steve from Off the Cuff will host as master of ceremonies. Additional performances from the Rochez Academy of Irish Dance, Scarlet Reckoning, Kevin McCarthy, Miss Cathy's Dance, Rock Angel, and various team mascots round out the evening.
Immediately following the opening ceremony at 6 p.m., the traditional Survivor Lap will commence. This opening lap, in which all of the cancer survivors in attendance walk, is a celebration and victory lap for overcoming cancer. Participants young and old clap and cheer around the perimeter of the track. After this lap, any and all caregivers join in as participants thank the efforts caregivers dedicate.
After the sun sets, the City of Thorold Bagpipers will lead the Luminaria Ceremony, in which hundreds of candlelit bags line the track in memory or honor of cancer patients. Each bag is individually prepared and decorated by family, friends and volunteers.
"Everyone knows someone who is battling cancer and Relay for Life has mobilized Grand Islanders in the fight," says Town Supervisor Mary Cooke. "More and more people come out every year to celebrate, remember and fight back. Relay has become a year-round rallying force to help find a cure. The strength of Relay For Life on the Island, now in its 12th year, is a testament to the spirit and generosity of our citizens. I'm looking forward to a sensational Relay on May 31."
While dogs are allowed in the park, there will be no dogs will be allowed in the Relay area, with the exception of service animals, due to the limited and compromised immune systems of survivors.