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Lynn Dingey's Relay For Life journey

by jmaloni

•Taken from the March 27 Island Dispatch

Tue, Mar 31st 2015 12:40 pm

This year's Relay for Life will begin at 4 p.m. May 30, and will end at 6 a.m. May 31.

By Alice Gerard

On March 21, the rock music sounds of Wide Right, a band from Buffalo, filled Mallwitz's Island Lanes during a fundraiser, organized by the Mallwitz Cancer Crew, one of Grand Island's Relay For Life teams. According to Mallwitz Cancer Crew team captain Lynn Dingey, the evening's events, which also included a basket raffle, raised $3,600 for the American Cancer Society.

Dingey said that she was thrilled with the results. "We want to thank everybody that came out and showed their support in any way," she said

Dingey talked about fundraisers that her team has planned, including an April 19 bowling tournament for kids only, a May 9 chicken barbecue at the Grand Island Rod and Gun Club and a June 8 golf tournament at River Oaks. She also talked about her own Relay For Life journey, which began in 2006. Dingey, who had never heard of Relay For Life before that time, said that she began to notice purple signs and ribbons around town.

On June 9, 2006, Dingey went out to dinner with friends. She invited them to join her at Relay For Life, but they declined. She went to Relay alone.

Darkness had fallen, and the luminaria ceremony had just started. She watched cancer survivors follow bagpipes around the track during the survivors lap. "It was amazing," Dingey said.

Dingey, who said that there has been no cancer in her immediate family, commented, "As you're making your way around the track, and you see those names (written on the paper bags holding candles), you cry. Your heart breaks for those families."

Dingey, who works as an assistant civil engineer for the town's engineering department, reported that, the following Monday, she informed then Town Supervisor Pete McMahon that the Town Hall was having a team the following year. Town Hall did form a team in 2007.

Later, Dingey formed a team from the Moose Lodge, where she is a member, called the Mooseketeers. Its mascot was a large purple cutout of a moose. It was "funny because he was huge so you had to bring him to Relay in the back of a pickup truck." One year, the moose almost did not come to Relay because he didn't have a ride. "Everyone said, 'The moose has to be there!' So we found somebody at Relay with a truck to go pick him up for us, and he came." Another year, the team had a fake campfire. The team outgrew the Moose Lodge, so it moved to Mallwitz's Island Lanes bowling alley, a venue able to handle large events. The team is now in its fourth year at the bowling alley.

In addition to being a team captain, Dingey is also one of three co-chairs of this year's Relay For Life. The other two co-chairs are Becky Sommer-Stufkosky and Candy Mye.

Sommer-Stufkosky, who said that she met Dingey at Town Hall, described Dingey as a "logistics queen" and a good friend. "She has a vision of how the Relay should be, and she runs with it. Our friendship has just grown. We feed off of each other when it comes to Relay stuff. We are partners in the fight," Sommer-Stufkosky said.

Dingey said that she went to a Relay For Life conference in Dallas during fall 2014. She said, "You are not alone in this fight. This fight is going on all around the world. You bring back ideas that you would have never thought of. There's a great wall of hope this year. Anyone who raises $100 or more gets a brick on the great wall of hope."

"I'm the build-the-fun chair, which basically oversees a lot of the activities happening the day of Relay.

Dingey said, "I like being the co-chair. If we can make somebody's journey a little easier, that's what we want to do. Relay is about giving people hope. This is for survivors and for caregivers, as well. This Island is a unique community. (Islanders) care for each other and come together to support each other. Someone gets sick, and they are bringing dinners and offering help."

Some of the "build the fun activities" planned for Relay include a painting event, much like the popular "paint with wine" social events, and a sunrise Zumba activity, scheduled for 5 a.m. A survivors' reception is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.

"Another new thing in the works for Relay this year is a Mission tent. It is a tent where people can find out what the American Cancer Society does with the money that is raised through Relay. We plan to have information on the services offered by ACS, and we are working on having some of the local doctors and even researchers on hand who have benefited from ACS grant money," Dingey said.

Over the years, Relay has changed. The event is now being held at Veterans Park. "The kids in the schools have been decorating a lot of the luminaria bags, and it has changed the luminaria ceremony. Kids have a different way of looking at things than adults, and they do just beautiful bags."

The Mallwitz Cancer Crew runs the Relay store at the event. It sells clothing, including "Crush Cancer" and "Fight Like a Girl" shirts and sweatshirts. The team also sells mugs, cups and bags decorated with the Relay For Life logo." Everyone likes stuff with Relay on it. We do a team tent next to it that sells a taco in a bag. We've done that three or four years, and, every year, we sell out. It is really neat to see," Dingey said.

Dingey talked about how cancer has affected her life through the friends that she has made at Relay For Life.

One friend that she talked about was the late Dan McBride, who was the 2009 honorary survivor. "Dan would do anything for anybody," she said. "Last year's theme was music: Rock Out Cancer. We (the committee) showed up at Relay in the morning, and Dan handed out backstage passes that were our nametags. He would do stuff like that. That's how we remember Dan. He went above and beyond. He had the biggest heart. It was painful to lose Dan, and it still is."

Dan McBride died Feb. 1.

One of the teams is planning a hockey game, called the "Dan McBride Memorial Cup," scheduled for 4 p.m. May 17, at the HARBORCENTER in Buffalo. The game is being organized by ACI Controls of West Seneca.

Relay, Dingey said, is "for the survivors, so we go out of our way to make a celebration for them. And that's where we are going to miss Dan. He was a good guy."

Dingey said that she is grateful for the support of her two sons, Nicholas, 15, and Jonathan, 13. They are members of Jon Jon's team. She said that she is also grateful for the support of the man in her life, John Whitney. "John's my rock. Good and bad, he's always there for me. I'm blessed to have such really great family and friends in my life."

This year's Relay for Life will begin at 4 p.m. May 30, and will end at 6 a.m. May 31.

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