Community united by common cause
A birthday is a special day on the calendar for just about anyone, but it’s a particularly meaningful milestone to cancer survivors and their families.
The American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life of West Seneca, held Saturday at the West Seneca East Senior High School track, offers survivors and their loved ones a chance to celebrate all the additional candles on their cakes since diagnosis.
It’s also a way for the community to honor and celebrate the lives of local cancer survivors at the event, which brings awareness of the fact that cancer doesn’t sleep — and neither will the ACS until it finds a cure.
Since the first Relay For Life, held in Tacoma, Wash., in 1985, the event has raised more than $3 billion at more than 5,000 Relays throughout the country, including thousands of dollars at West Seneca’s events. Last year’s Relay For Life in West Seneca raised more than $70,000. Though numbers may be down from previous years, there is still a lot to be said for the approximately $58,000 that has so far been raised for the 2012 Relay. The numbers are not final until collection ends in August.
It’s astounding to see the number of teams (38) and individuals (399) that participated this year. It’s clear that Relay for Life is an event that means something to the West Seneca community, and something we know many look forward to each and every year.
The Relay begins with cancer survivors of all ages who walk, run or congregate around the track for the first lap. This emotional time sets the stage for the importance of each participant’s contribution. A festive atmosphere develops as teams — typically comprising 10 to 15 people — join the ACS efforts to help people get well, stay well, fight back and find cures.
Highlighting the evening is the luminaria service, a candlelight vigil held at nightfall to honor survivors and to remember those lost to cancer. Luminaria candles line the track and are left burning throughout the night as a reminder to participants of the importance of their involvement in the Relay For Life event.
Participants are encouraged to learn about their own risks for various cancers, as well as to join the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network. By signing up, each person can help affect legislation regarding cancer, such as efforts to protect funding for the New York State Cancer Services Program, which provides breast, cervical and colon cancer screening to the uninsured in New York.
In addition to West Seneca, the American Cancer Society hosts a Relay event in nearly 200 other communities throughout New York.
To find out more about Relay For Life, call 1-800-227-2345 or visit www.cancer.org. Interested team captains can build their own team and raise funds online at relayforlife.org/nynj.