By Larry Austin
Island Dispatch Editor
The Grand Island Relay For Life will look to "Give Cancer the Boot" when the fundraising season kicks into high gear.
Tuesday, March 8, the annual Grand Island Relay For Life Kickoff will open at 7 p.m. in the Veronica Connor Middle School cafeteria. The slogan is "Give Cancer the Boot," a country music theme.
Participants are "encouraged to bring their cowboy hats or wear their cowboy boots and help us 'Give Cancer the Boot,' " said Lynn Dingey, who is tri-chair for the Grand Island Relay with Candy Mye and Becky Stufkosky.
The kickoff event will feature a presentation of awards to top teams from the 2015 Relay and the introduction of the honorary survivors and caregivers.
"We are doing something a little different with survivors and caregivers this year," Dingey hinted. "Stop by March 8 to find out what."
Relay For Life will return to a Friday night affair when the 2016 edition is held June 10.
"We're returning to Friday," said Mye. "We want to make it accessible to a lot of people in Western New York."
Other Relays have been scheduled, and so the "choices were pretty narrow" for open dates without conflicts with other Relays, Mye said.
"When we went to juggle the calendar around, other Relays had the other weekends, so we didn't want to overlap with them," Dingey said.
"We'd like other Relays to come, so we don't want to have two scheduled on the same day," Mye explained.
Dingey said the last weekend in May was out because it's Memorial Day weekend and the Grand Island High School prom is Saturday, June 11.
Registration is open and teams are forming now. Mye said this year 18 teams have signed up early.
"We have over $10,000 already, which is a great start," Mye said of the fundraising, which benefits the American Cancer Society.
The 2015 edition raised $122,000, putting the lifetime total on the Island to $1.5 million. Stufkosky said the total is pretty impressive "for this little rock of 20,000 people."
Mye said the GI Relay is inviting everyone off the rock to join the Island. Those people who may not want to travel to a Relay further away can hop over the bridge and take part in an Island Relay in its 14th year.
The 2016 Relay will end at midnight with performers like country artists Rob Bilson scheduled to perform. The Relay will also include the return of Paint Nite, which Mye called "a real crowd-pleaser" in its debut at last year's Relay.
Also on the Relay calendar:
•Saturday, April 23 - The Dan McBride Memorial Cup hockey tourney will take place at HARBORCENTER in Buffalo. The event is named after the late Islander and Relay For Life honorary survivor.
•Saturday, April 30 - Paint the Town Purple.