by Casey Dahlstrom
Grand Island Relay For Life Committee
"One World, One Hope." That's the message and theme for Grand Island's 13th annual American Cancer Society Relay For Life.
Committee members are already hard at work for the fundraiser, which is aimed at seeing a world without cancer.
The official Relay For Life kickoff celebration will be held at Veronica Connor Middle School's cafeteria at 7 p.m. Jan. 14. This night will wrap up the successful 2014 "Rock Out Cancer" theme. This year's Relay had music memorabilia everywhere. Participants at the park (35 teams, more than 100 survivors and 1,000 attendees) were rocking the night away.
The kickoff party will officially kickoff the "One World, One Hope" theme aimed at showcasing various cultures that makeup our unique world.
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On May 30, 2015, Relay For Life will return to Veterans Park to once again raise money for cancer research, prevention and awareness. Participants of all ages, cultures and backgrounds will join together to spend the night walking a track to wipe out cancer. Taking turns, team members will continually walk against a disease that never sleeps.
The evening mixes celebration with remembrance and courage as people enjoy various performances, treats and games. Doors will open at 4 p.m., with the traditional "Survivor Lap" following the opening ceremony at 6 p.m.
Last year, I was honored to serve as the "Honorary Survivor." I have spent my life fighting back against a difficult disease that attempts to break its hosts just as much mentally as physically. This November, I celebrated a 20-year anniversary since my last cancer treatment. I spoke from my heart at Relay last year when I said battling cancer is not something that can be done alone. It requires an army of friends, family and doctors.
Cancer can occur to anyone, anywhere, at any time - regardless of age, race or sex. It is appropriate this year, then, that we, as committee, have chosen the 2015 theme to be "One World, One Hope."
"The world theme, I think, encompasses all of our hopes that cancer will be defeated and (that) we work not only as a community, but as a world," said Becky Sommer-Stufkosky, who returns for a third year as co-chair of the Grand Island Relay committee. "For cancer is so big and spreads so far. Together through our mission, we reach all lands."
Though we speak different languages, have various beliefs, cultures and backgrounds, the unity we share is crystal clear. Friends and family means everything to us. Cancer is a universal wedge that tries to split those bonds apart, yet, in many cases, forges and strengthens new bonds.
This holiday season, be thankful for not only the roof over your head and food at your table, but for the family and friends you have to spend it with.
Registration is currently open and donations are being accepted. By visiting www.relayforlife.org/grandislandny, you can find out how to donate, sign up, or assist a participant with fundraiser efforts.
On behalf the Relay For Life committee, we thank you for support over the years and look forward to celebrating another successful Relay Saturday, May 30.
Happy holidays from all of us!