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Grand Island Relay For Life
2015


Saturday, May 30th - 4:00 p.m. - 6:00 a.m.
Veterans Park
A.C.S. Grand Island Relay Site

Relay For Life Page - 2014




Annual Cancer Walk Renews Hope - May 2015

By Casey Dahlstrom

   Committee members of the 13th annual Relay For Life of Grand Island are eager to prove that thirteen can be a lucky number, as the overnight cancer walk returns to Veteran's Park on May 30th. Hope and excitement is sky high with the addition of even more entertainment, local celebrities, amazing prizes, and a chance to reach the $1.5 million mark of funds raised since Grand Island started hosting Relay.
    Relay For Life is the main fundraising event of the American Cancer Society and is held in 20 countries every year. It is an overnight event in which teams walk all night around a candlelit track to fight back against a disease that never sleeps. "Relay is so much more than a walk. It's a celebration, a memorial, a block party, a team-builder, and a demonstration of all that is best about a community," says Grand Island's ACS staff partner, Missy Stolfi. "We invite all cancer survivors in WNY to join us, to be our guest, and to let us celebrate your strength and that of your fellow survivors." The survivor reception will run from 4:30 p.m. until 8 p.m.
   "One World, One Hope...Imagine Our World with a Cure!", was chosen as the 2015 theme by the Relay for Life Committee to symbolize that cancer is not a prejudice disease, and that the fight is a global struggle every day. Doors open at 4:00 p.m., and the traditional Survivor Lap and Caregiver Lap will immediately follow the opening ceremony at 6:00 p.m. There will also be a special Hero Lap for all veterans in attendance. The event will run overnight and conclude on May 31st at 6:00 a.m.
    Kelly Remington, a New York State Trooper from Grand Island who competed on the CBS Show "Survivor: Worlds Apart", will host a meet and greet from 4:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. at the main Survivor tent, before taking to the track. Pre-registration is required for Paint for Hope, hosted by Pinot’s Pallete, at 10:30 p.m. Relay will also play host to the Beat Cancer Piñata Smash, American Isle Lip Sync Contest, a bonfire, and Sunrise Zumba. Contest prizes throughout the night include a $500 VISA gift card and tickets for round-trip airfare anywhere in the United States with Southwest Airlines.
    Preferred parking will be provided for all cancer survivors using the Bedell Road entrance to the park. There will be no street parking on Bedell Road. All other participants are asked to park using the Baseline Road entrance to park. No dogs or other animals are permitted in the Relay area, with the exception of service animals, due to the compromised immune systems of our cancer survivors. Registration is still open for Relay For Life and there is no cost this year. It will be an evening to remember as one community will stand as one and show the world the cancer will not win.




Relay For Life Schedule of Events - May 2015

   The Relay For Life 2015 will take place on Saturday, May 30th from 4:00 p.m. - 6:00 a.m. at Veterans Park. See schedule of events so you don't miss a thing!




Survivor Contestant at Relay For Life - May 2015

From left: Lisa Dudley and Kelly Remington

    Kelly Remington, New York State Trooper from Grand Island, who survived 6 tribal councils on the CBS Show "Survivor: Worlds Apart ", will be making an appearance at the Grand Island American Cancer Society Relay For Life on Saturday, May 30, 2015 at Veterans Park. There will be a meet and greet from 4:30 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. at the Cancer Survivor tent, sponsored by local business Fresenius Kabi. "How fitting to have Kelly from Survivor as part of an event which is based on survivors" was the thought of Lisa Dudley, who is celebrating her 10 year breast cancer free anniversary this year. Lisa met Kelly at a Survivor TV viewing party that was held at Say Cheese over a month ago. "I was so taken by her enthusiasm, determination, and generosity on and off the show and decided to invite her to Relay" said Lisa. Kelly accepted and said "This is a great event, I am here for whatever you need." Kelly sustained a severe head injury during the game and when asked how she kept going, her reply was "Let's bandage this up. Let's go. Let's finish this game." This is also how a cancer survivor feels along their journey.
    You can watch Kelly on the Survivor reunion show which airs Wednesday, May 20th at 10:00 p.m. on WIVB TV, Channel 4, after the 8:00-10:00 p.m. finale show. Kelly has a chance to be voted "Fan Favorite!" Come and meet Kelly, get your picture, purchase a purple bandana for her to autograph, and maybe even walk the track with her. Kelly will also be one of the judges for the Tent Contest that evening. The theme for Relay this year is "One World, One Hope." Relay starts at 4:00 p.m. with the Opening Ceremony at 6:00 p.m., and the Luminaria Ceremony at 10:00 p.m. If you have never experienced Relay before, there is food, entertainment and items to buy and all the monies go to the American Cancer Society to fight this disease which affects all of us!! Thank you to Kelly Remington for joining us in the fight against cancer!!




Painting at GI Relay For Life - May 2015

Picture will be in the signature purples of Relay and include a message of HOPE.

   When you are at the Grand Island Relay on Saturday, May 30th, you have an opportunity to paint a lovely 16x20" painting titled "Make a Wish." The event begins at 10:30 p.m. and the $25 donation includes $5 to Relay. There is room for 45 painters and registration is required in advance. Go to Pinot's Palette to register.




Princess Dance Party Fundraiser - April 2015

   Relay for Life team Stomp It Out is hosting a "Princess Dance Party" on Saturday, May 2nd from 2:00 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. at Step In Time Studio of Dance, 2920 Grand Island Blvd. This activity is for ages 4-8 and the cost is $8.00. Proceeds will be donated to the GI Relay For Life. Come dressed as your favorite princess. See flyer.




Combating Cancer with Every Step - April 2015

Story by Casey Dahlstrom

    Missy Stolfi was asked by her students seven years ago to serve as the advisor of a new group at her school called Relay For Life, and with high hopes she joined in a fight that she never imagined could grow so fast. Stolfi now serves as the American Cancer Society's staff partner for the Relay For Life of Grand Island, an overnight fundraising walk against cancer, and is excited by the strong community support. "Relay is so much more than a walk. It's a celebration, a memorial, a block party, a team-builder, and a demonstration of all that is best about a community," says Stolfi. "Grand Island Relayers have so much passion and drive. They are incredibly supportive of one another, of their cancer survivors and caregivers, and also of the rest of the WNY Relay community."
   While this will be Stolfi's first Relay For Life as Grand Island's staff partner, she is not new to the fight. When Stolfi was just nine years old, she watched her grandfather lose his battle with pancreatic cancer in just three months. And like many others, she fights back. "One thing that is magical about Relay is that it brings people together who may not have otherwise connected. It also creates an understanding across any personal difference or backgrounds we may have, and inspires us to work together, contribute what we can to the fight, and collectively brings out the best of us, because we ARE better than cancer!" Stolfi points out that the funds raised by Relay make a larger splash in Western New York than many donors realize. In addition to research grants at Roswell Park and UB, patient benefits include the Buffalo Hope Lodge, Look Good Feel Better classes for women, Mary's Wig Room in Amherst, strong healthcare system relationships and more.
    Grand Island's 13th annual Relay, themed "One World, One Hope: Imagine Our World with a Cure", returns to Veteran's Park on May 30th with the doors opening at 4:00 p.m. and the opening ceremony and traditional survivor lap commencing at 6:00 p.m. Entertainment, raffles, dances and competitions kickoff the event. After the Luminaria Ceremony, which reflects on those who lost their battle with cancer, three artists from Pinot's Palette will host forty-five painters to create custom Relay themed masterpieces, and the Ultimate Lip Sync Battle Royale will decide a grand champion. And as dawn breaks, so will a new wave of hope and courage to continue fighting back against cancer. Being at Relay in the wee hours of the morning is a really special time of peace and accomplishment. The best way to understand Relay is to come experience it for yourself! Invite your friends and family from other communities to join you and see what makes GI's Relay special.




Paint the Town Purple Events - April 2015

2015 Student Ambassadors: Alex Melisz, Haley Melisz, Danielle Duck, Gabby Robinson and Alex Garey.

   The 2015 Relay For Life Student Ambassadors will be heading up this year's Paint the Town Purple Day in support of the American Cancer Society's Relay For Life of Grand Island. The Ambassadors along with many of the committee members will bring the Town Commons alive with purple on Saturday, April 25th, in preparation for the annual Paint the Town Purple event, which takes place nationally on May 1st. Bows will be available to be purchased on April 25th at the First Niagara branch on Grand Island Boulevard from 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m as well as at deSignet Jewelers at 1869 Whitehaven Road. Bows are $5.00 and will be available while supplies last. Smaller bows will also be available for a $1.00 donation.
    Be creative and spread the word. When someone asks you why you dressed up your front door purple, be sure to tell them May 1st is May Day for Relay. Our student ambassadors are encouraging all Grand Islanders to follow their lead as well as inspiring others to follow. It’s easy and fun. Just hang up some purple decorations, wear your favorite purple tie or plant purple flowers in your front yard. Whatever you choose to do, show your purple spirit and make that spirit contagious. Whether you choose to decorate alone or with a group of friends, feel good knowing that you are showing your support for those who have fought or continue their battle with cancer. For more information, please call Becky Sommer-Stufkosky at 774-8978.




Purse Party Relay Fundraiser - April 2015

    A "Reversible Purse & Bag Party" Relay For Life fundraiser is on Wednesday, April 22nd at 2338 First Street, Grand Island, NY from 6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. All profits will go to Grand Island Relay For Life. Team Stomp It Out is sponsoring the party. See Flyer for details.




Keeping a Promise - April 2015

Becky Sommer-Stufkosky
Story by Casey Dahlstrom, Publicity Chairman

    Becky Sommer-Stufkosky's life has been surrounded by the difficult and challenging fight against cancer. Though she has not been diagnosed herself, she is all too familiar with chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgeries to combat cancer. The fire within her has raged as her husband, daughter, uncle, mother-in-law, sister-in-law and many friends have all been diagnosed. So this January, she made a lifelong promise to a dear friend and committed herself unselfishly to continue helping others.
   Becky is co-chair for the 13th annual American Cancer Society Relay For Life of Grand Island and spends her time doing anything and everything she can to fight cancer. Whether it's fundraising, donating, walking, bowling or singing, Becky is up for doing whatever she can to finish the fight. This past January, Becky spent every minute she had available at Roswell Park Cancer Institute alongside her best friend who was losing his battle with cancer. She felt helpless as he slowly passed and vowed she would find a way to help. By his bed, she made a promise that she would continually donate the platelets in her blood so others could live. "I promised him, I said I will be there every two weeks, and I will do this because I know how important it is," Becky told a Channel 7 news reporter. And Becky has been doing just that. She visits Roswell Park every two weeks knowing that she is saving strangers lives with every visit. Recently, however, Becky learned she would be unable to donate her platelets for one year. She was potentially exposed to Hepatitis A while eating at Casa Di Pizza on Elmwood Avenue. "For one year, I am deferred and cannot donate platelets. I cannot tell you how much it breaks my heart," she said. And so Becky challenged the community, as well as Casa Di Pizza, to help her keep her promise.
   "A stranger, a total stranger can make a difference and we can't do much in this world, but we can pay it forward. We can help others," she said. Becky has spent her life fighting. Through the up and downs, she keeps on pushing forward. Now she really needs your help so she can keep the promise she made to a fellow Relay For Life fighter and her best friend. Appointments can be made online at www.roswellpark.org or by calling the Donor Center at Roswell at 716-845-8275.




The Daniel McBride Memorial Cup - April 2015

Daniel McBride

   Save the date for "The Daniel McBride Memorial Cup" on Sunday, May 17th at 4:00 p.m. at the Harborcenter in downtown Buffalo. This 3rd annual Relay for Life Hockey Game raises funds for the Grand Island Relay for Life and is in memory of Dan McBride who lost his battle with cancer February 1st. Tickets are $5 and there will be raffles, 50/50's and giveaways. See flyer for details.




GI Sings For Hope - April 2015

Story by Casey Dahlstrom, Publicity Chairman

    Courage and hope filled the air at the GI Sings for Hope Concert at Grand Viking Theatre on April 1st. The Grand Island community showed up in great force to support the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life, as well as Make a Wish Foundation. Seventy baskets made up the Chinese Auction as over one hundred singers sang of hope in the fight against cancer. The concert was held not only as a fundraiser for Relay for Life and Make A Wish Foundation, but as an inspiration to everyone that has ever been touched by cancer in some way.
   Huth Road School's 5th Grade Chorus began the evening with the lights dimmed and each singer holding a candle. Tears from the audience were flowing before the song commenced. But the evening was full of more emotion than just sadness. Director Carol Horrigan courageously announced that just one day before the concert, she celebrated her 5 year anniversary of being cancer free. "A lot can happen in 5 years. I was diagnosed, underwent surgery, chemo, radiation and survived," Horrigan said. "But in that same 5 years, I watched my mother lose her battle. All we can do is have faith, believe in hope, be strong, and try to make it better for the next person. I hope you leave tonight knowing we are all in this together and know that we made a difference in our little corner of our world."
    Opera singer James Wright, a 2004 alumna, stunned the crowd with a powerful opera performance, for which he received a standing ovation. "It's always an honor for me to come back and do events like this, especially because I get to sing for the people who got me here," said Wright. Middle School Singcopations, Grand Island Community Choir, Pink Chorus and High School Concert Choir also performed and the theme of strength and encouragement was evident through titles such as "We Will Stand with You", "You'll Never Walk Alone", and "We Are One". Even the audience joined the performers singing along to "A Promise I Will Keep".
    Perhaps the most moving song of the evening came with the combination of every group as the evening concluded with "Why We Sing". The groups sang in unison, "Share the joy, find a friend. It's a never ending gift that circles back again. This is why we sing, why we lift our voice. Music builds a bridge and can tear down a wall. Music is a language that speaks to one and all. This is why we sing."
    The American Cancer Society's Relay for Life returns to Grand Island for its thirteenth year on May 3th0 at Veteran's Park. The all night walk raises money for cancer prevention, patient services and finding a cure for all cancers. The 2015 event is themed "One World, One Hope: Imagine Our World with a Cure" in demonstration that fighting cancer is a global fight and in this fight is a community that is bonded through music, refusing to back down to cancer.




Painting for Jon Jon Fundraiser - March 2015

Jon Jon Cinelli

   The Jon Jon's Relay for Life team is having two sessions of "Painting for Jon Jon" in April at Pinot's Palette, 9570 Transit Road, East Amherst, NY 14051. Jon Jon Cinelli lost his battle with cancer in November 2008. The first date is Tuesday, April 21st from 7:00-9:00 p.m. and the painting is Those Summer Nights. The second date is Wednesday, April 29th from 7:00-9:00 p.m. and the painting is Crimson Pathway. Tickets are $45.00 and include complementary snacks and cash bar. All proceeds go to Jon Jon's Relay for Life team. See flyer.

Relay for Life Golf Tournament - March 2015

    The 2nd annual Mallwitz's Island Lanes Golf Tournament for Relay for Life is Monday, June 8th at River Oaks Golf Course. See flyer for details. Sponsors and players are needed.




Relay for Life Bowl-A-Thon - March 2015

   The Relay for Life Bowl-A-Thon takes place on Sunday, April 19th at Mallwitz's Island Lanes. This is a kids only event. See flyer.




Chicken BBQ Fundraiser - March 2015

    Relay for Life team Mallwitz Cancer Crew is hosting a Chicken BBQ by BW's Barbecue on Saturday, May 9th from 2:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. at the Grand Island Rod & Gun Club, 1083 Whitehaven Road. There will be a basket raffle, music, 50/50, bake sale and hot dogs. See flyer for details.




Living with Cancer - March 2015


Luke Gworek

Story by Casey Dahlstrom, Publicity Chairman
    One year ago, the Gworek family's lives changed forever when their son, Luke, was diagnosed with leukemia. In December 2013, doctors discovered the blood cancer and immediately started him on a heavy dose of chemotherapy. "When Luke was first diagnosed and we had to return to the hospital unexpectedly, often times we felt scattered and scared because we were uncertain of what to expect," said Luke's mother, Danielle. "Luke's view of cancer is what you would expect of an 8 year old boy. He understands that his blood is sick and needs chemotherapy to help make him better. He is scared of the unknown but faces each day with strength and faith." Danielle says they have developed a series of plans and have bags packed and set aside as returning to the hospital could happen at any time due to fevers and infections.
    But what makes the Gworek family special is their commitment to helping others, even while they fight the cancer together. In 2014, Luke was dubbed the Band-Aid King for organizing a drive which collected over 2,000 boxes of kid-friendly band-aids, while his sister, Faith, volunteers with her religious class for organizations such as Carly's Club. "We know that cancer has changed our family forever, but we will not let it define us negatively. We embrace the fight ahead because this will not end once Luke is done with treatment in 2016, but will be a road that will continue to take sharp turns and have up and down hills," said Danielle. "Bill and I are so proud that Luke and Faith have not buried themselves in self-pity but have embraced the chances they have to help others."
    The Relay for Life of Grand Island committee certainly caught notice. At the kickoff event for Grand Island's thirteenth year hosting the Relay for Life event, Luke was named as the Honorary Survivor for 2015. The entire Gworek family are the Honorary Caregivers. "Luke has looked at the solution beyond the problem of cancer. He knows how to connect with people. Most would look at a doctor as the one to offer council and hope. Not this little boy. He looks at the people and the community around him and he is the one that shares the hope. This young man is the face of tomorrow; and that tomorrow being a world without cancer," said tri-chair Becky Sommer-Stufkosky.
    Relay for Life is the fundraising event for the American Cancer Society supporting cancer research and patient care programs. The overnight walk returns on May 30th to Veteran's Park to celebrate survivors, remember those who lost their battles, and fight back against a disease that has taken too much already. One World, One Hope: Imagine Our World with a Cure! was chosen as the 2015 theme by the Relay for Life Committee to symbolize that cancer is not a prejudice disease, and that the fight is a global struggle every day. The Grand Island community has raised $1.3 million in twelve years and is eager to spread their mission with even more participants, particularly even more survivors. "Survivors are amazingly strong individuals and often have an equally amazing caregiver. Anything we can do to brighten even just one day of their battle is worth doing," tri-chair Lynn Dingey said. There is no cost for registration this year. To help survivors like Luke, you can find out how to donate and learn more about Relay at www.relayforlife.org/grandislandny.




Pinatas Needed for Cancer Smash - March 2015


   Casey Dahlstrom from the "Mye Hopes for a Cure" team for Relay for Life is in need of donations for a "beat cancer" smash. Pinatas are needed for the fundraiser to be held at Relay for Life, at Veteran's Park on May 30th. Casey is hoping to collect close to 50 pinatas. "They don't need to be pretty," says Casey. "Whether they are homemade or store bought, these pinatas are symbolizing cancer, and I hope to have an arsenal so we can 'beat cancer' all night long." He made his own pinata and challenged cancer directly by naming it Carson Oma. He says he can't wait to take another swing at cancer, as Casey is a cancer survivor himself of over 20 years. If you can donate any pinatas for the smash, please email caseydahlstrom@gmail.com to arrange a pickup.




Band & Baskets for Relay For Life - March 2015

Band & Baskets for Relay For Life is on Saturday, March 21st at 6:00 p.m. at Mallwitz's Island Lanes. The basket raffle is 6:00-10:00 p.m., "Wide Right" will perform from 8:00-midnight. See flyer.



Fill the Fishbowls for Jon Jon - February 2015


   The Jon Jon Relay for Life team is having a fundraiser during Lent to raise funds to fight cancer. Jon Jon Cinelli, beloved son of Jon Cinelli of Grand Island, NY and Anne Cinelli of the Town of Tonawanda, NY, was diagnosed in 2007 with Instrinsic Pontillar Glioma, which is a tumor located inside the brainstem. Sadly, Jon Jon lost his courageous battle with cancer on November 16, 2008 at the age of seven. Jon Jon's Relay for Life Team has been managed by his loving aunt Julie Cinelli since 2009. You can donate to The Relay For Life in memory of Jon Jon at St. Stephen's School Fish Fry on Friday nights, at Dick & Jenny's, Buffalo Launch Club,Ellden's at River Oaks and The Village Inn.




One World, One Hope...Imagine Our World with a Cure! - January 2015

Honorary Survivor Luke Gworek connects on his swing to "beat cancer" at GI's Relay for Life kickoff. - Renee Gugino photo

Story by Casey Dahlstrom, Publicity Coordinator
    Grand Island residents came ready for action at the kickoff of Grand Island's thirteenth annual Relay for Life on Wednesday, January 14th. With a show of sheer determination, cancer survivors took turns swinging at the world-painted pinatas, demonstrating they are ready to beat cancer once again. The annual kickoff closed out a successful "Rock-Out Cancer" theme held in 2014, at which $129,000 was raised for cancer research and prevention for the American Cancer Society.
   Missy Stolfi, Grand Island's new staff partner from the American Cancer Society, praised participants for their efforts. "I'm humbled by the dedication, creativity and spirit of the Grand Island Relay family over the years," she said. "You can tell that the Grand Island Relayers truly love what they do. You guys have such big hearts. This comes very naturally to this community and that's something to be commended."
    "One World, One Hope...Imagine Our World with a Cure!" was chosen as the 2015 theme by the Relay for Life Committee to symbolize that cancer is not a prejudice disease, and that the fight is a global struggle every day. Along with the globe-shaped and decorated pinatas, the Veronica Connor Middle School was decked-out with a miniature Eiffle Tower, cookies with icing frosted like the Earth, fortune cookies, delicious fruit cups with miniature flags, and participants dressed in costume.
    Becky Sommer-Stufkosky, returning for another year as Co-Chair of the Grand Island committee, announced that deaths from cancer had dropped twenty percent by 2013. In the two years since that time, deaths have dropped an additional two percent. Participants have already raised over $10,000 for this year's Relay for Life, which returns to Veteran's Park on May 30th. The gates will officially open at 4:00 p.m., and the traditional survivor lap that kicks-off the evening will follow the opening ceremony at 6:00 p.m. Teams will walk throughout the night along the candlelit track in teams to celebrate all cancer survivors, remember those who lost their battles, and fight back.
    Eight-year-old Luke Gworek will lead the survivor lap this year after being named Honorary Survivor for 2015. "You never expect that your child will be honored for being a cancer survivor," said his mother Danielle Gworek. "We're very humbled, that's the only way to describe it." Luke was diagnosed with Leukemia in December 2013, and has battled his cancer at Roswell Park and Women and Children's hospital since then. It was at Roswell that Luke was dubbed the Band-Aid King for his efforts in collecting more than 2,000 boxes of Band-Aids. Saturday, January 17th marked one year since Luke officially went into remission. Speaking for Luke, Danielle stated that if all goes well, he is scheduled to finish his treatments in April 2016.
    When he isn't busy with all of his treatments, Luke spends his time trying to help other pediatric patients take their medicine and helps them cope with everything they've been through. Mark Gorton, MC for the Relay kickoff, addressed Luke directly saying, "You have the face of a survivor. We're inspired by you and your family. I would be remiss, being a star wars fan, if I didn't say 'Luke, the force is strong with you!' We salute the Gworek family today, and thank you for being our hope tonight."
    There is an eagerness and excitement in the air for 2015's Relay, as a huge milestone is close to being set. Number thirteen could prove to be a lucky number for this event as the committee hopes to reach the $1.5 million mark of funds raised in the years that Grand Island has hosted Relay for Life. There is no cost for registration this year. Registration is open online at www.relayforlife.org, where you can find more information about Relay and how you can make a difference in so many peoples' lives.




Relay For Life Kick Off - January 2015

"One World One Hope...Imagine OUR World With a CURE"

Date: Wednesday January 14th, 2015
Location: Middle School Cafeteria
Time: 7:00 p.m.
The dress for the evening is "around the world"...think sombrero, kimono, lederhosen, touque, etc.
Grand Island Relay Webpage




Relay for Life 2015 - One World, One Hope

Aaron Bobeck photo


YouTube Video
Story and video by Casey Dahlstrom, Publicity Coordinator
    "One World, One Hope." That's the message and theme for Grand Island’s 13th annual Relay for Life of the American Cancer Society this year. Committee members of Relay for Life are already hard at work for this years' fundraiser 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 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, January 14th. This night will wrap up the successful 2014 "Rock Out Cancer" theme, in which there was music memorabilia everywhere and the park rocked the night away with 35 teams, over 100 survivors and over 1,000 attendees.
   The kickoff party will also officially kickoff the "One World, One Hope" theme aimed at showcasing various cultures that make-up our unique world. On Saturday, May 30, 2015, Relay for Life will return to Veterans Park once again to raise money for cancer research, prevention and awareness. Participants of all ages, cultures and backgrounds join together to spend the night walking a track to wipe out cancer. Taking turns, team members continually walk against a disease that never sleeps. The evening mixes celebration with remembrance and courage while enjoying various performances, treats and games. Doors will open at 4:00 p.m., with the traditional Survivor Lap following the Opening Ceremony at 6:00 p.m. that evening.
    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 that 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 American Cancer Society reports that 20 countries each year hold a Relay event. "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 that 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 that you have to spend it with.
   Registration is currently open and donations have begun collecting. By visiting www.relayforlife.org/grandislandny, you can find out how to donate, sign up, or assist a participant with their 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 on Saturday, May 30th. Happy Holidays from all of us!