Rain-or-shine events at Fuccillo Toyota dealership on Saturday, Veterans Park on Sunday
Article and photo by Alice Gerard
Relay For Life is back after a one-year hiatus as a two-day event. From 3-7 p.m. Saturday, a hybrid Relay event will be held at the Fuccillo Toyota dealership parking lot. The traditional luminaria ceremony will be offered at 9:15 p.m. Sunday at Veterans Park. In addition to the luminaria ceremony, a newly installed memorial garden at Veterans Park will be dedicated to the late Mary Dunbar-Daluisio, who, for many years, served as co-chair of Relay For Life.
Lynn Marston Dingey, Relay For Life co-chair, said, “Two years ago at Relay, we took up a fund to buy a tree. The tree fund raised enough money to buy a lilac tree and a bench. Well, then it got bigger. It went from a tree and two benches to a whole garden with a walkway near the concession stand. It’s the Garden of Hope. There are some rocks and some flowers in there. There is a sign, which we will unveil at the luminaria ceremony on Sunday night. The luminarias will be lined up along the walkway, rather than along the parking lot. So, people can get out of their cars and walk along the path and see the luminarias. We will be at the park at 7:30, if anyone wants to stop by and buy luminaria before the ceremony.”
The Saturday event will feature BW’s Barbecue dinner and a car show, featuring cars, trucks and motorcycles.
“The theme is ‘Cruisin’ for a Cure.’ It’s tied in to the car show. It was the theme for last year’s Relay For Life,” Dingey said. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, last year’s Relay For Life was canceled. This year’s event features shorter hours than the usual Relay “because of the COVID restrictions that we were given at the time. The ACS is still asking that we have a smaller event. There is no track, or walking in groups, or bounce slide.”
Dingey said she is excited about this year’s event after the one-year hiatus: “Relay! We’re back!”
She said there is enthusiasm about being able to get together to raise money for the American Cancer Society. The money raised goes for research and for patient services.
“Our group is so excited. It was tough not having Relay for a year. There was a huge impact to the American Cancer Society and the funds that were raised last year and how far they could stretch those funds for patient services. It’s all necessary stuff. So, we’re all excited to be back and raising money again so survivors can have services again and research is being done,” Dingey said. She mentioned that, during the year’s hiatus, some services had to be interrupted, such as rides for treatment for people with cancer. “Because of COVID, they weren’t putting survivors in cars with people that they didn’t know.”
Other services include a wig room that the American Cancer Society runs jointly with Roswell Park Cancer Institute; help with either discounted or free lodging for out-of-town people who are coming to Western New York for cancer treatments; a “look good, feel better” bag of makeup for women undergoing treatment; and a helpline that is available for any questions people might have, at any time of the day or night.
Dingey said her hope for the event is “just for people to get together” and for sunshine. “We encourage people to come over and check out the cars.”
In addition to the car show, there will be a survivors’ reception, which includes a free barbecue dinner for survivors, offered both in-person and via drive-thru. The options for the meal include chicken, ribs, or a combination of the two, along with sides. For all others, the dinner will be available for purchase. In addition to the option of picking up dinners, people can also pick up kids’ activities and survivor bags.
They can get tickets for the basket raffle or order luminaria at the tent, Dingey explained. “We’re trying to make it as drive-thru and in-person as we can.”
Many cancer survivors plan to take the drive-thru option, Dingey explained. “We don’t know about survivor turnout. We’ve gotten a lot of phone calls saying, ‘Thank you for the invitation, but I’m not ready to go out in groups of people.’ COVID is huge when it comes to having a compromised immune system.”
People who are able to attend the in-person event will find a bunch of tents at the Toyota dealership. These will include a basket raffle tent, a survivor tent, a food tent, a store tent, a luminaria tent where people can decorate luminaria for the Sunday ceremony, a kid zone tent, and a team tent with “Spin the Wheel.” There will be a car show tent, which will offer a 50-50 raffle. Also, Fuccillo will have its own tent with “employees selling raffle tickets and sports memorabilia,” Dingey said.
Activities and treats for kids will include a craft project, snow cones and cotton candy. Another feature of the Relay event will be a fire performance at 5:30 p.m. by Elektra & Odin Entertainment.
“They have been at Relay in the past. They do an amazing show,” Dingey said.
The DJ for Relay For Life will be Mark Smith from Solid Gold.
Dingey, who expressed sadness about the recent death of Billy Fuccillo, said she is thankful to him and to the Fuccillo dealerships.
“Mary Dunbar-Daluisio worked for the dealership. They’ve been a huge supporter of Relay since they opened on the Island. They supported the lawnmower races and the Relay event itself,” she noted.
Dingey said she anticipates that, next year, Relay For Life will be back at Veterans Park. For this year, “The change of location to Fuccillo Toyota on Alvin Road is big because I don’t want people to show up at the wrong spot and go home, thinking that they have the wrong day. They should show up at Veterans Park on Sunday, at 7:30, to purchase Luminaria, and at 9:15 for the actual ceremony. You can decorate your own or have someone decorate it for you. They can buy them on line also. Most of the information is available at the Relay website.”