By Jann Wiswall

Over the next two months, visitors and residents of Ellicottville will begin to notice a plethora of purple ribbons adorning the trees along the village streets and shop windows decorated with purple gifts, clothing and signage. All that purple is telling you that the community is gearing up for the annual Relay for Life fundraiser that will take place on June 7 on the track at Ellicottville Central School.

Over the past dozen or more years, the Ellicottville event has drawn hundreds of cancer survivors, caregivers, family members, friends and supporters together to celebrate those who are living with cancer, honor those who lost their lives to the disease and raise awareness about the fight against cancer. It also has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the American Cancer Society (ACS).

Last year, the event raised more than $35,000, which will help ACS “invest in groundbreaking research in every type of cancer and provide free information and services to cancer patients and their caregivers.”

To date, the Ellicottville event has signed up six teams with 47 participants, compared to last year’s 13 teams with 125 participants. In order to exceed last year’s fundraising total, more teams are desperately needed, as are volunteers for the planning committee and sponsors to host the official survivor dinner reception.

Crystal Page, ACS’s director of special events for Cattaraugus County, says that Ellicottville has had more competition over the past couple of years as two other local Relay events are gaining in participation — in Springville and Olean — and both likely are pulling teams closer to those areas. In fact, this year two, and possibly a three, former Ellicottville teams are moving to Olean.

Page said “the Ellicottville teams we have are amazing.” They’ve already raised more than $2,200 in donations. But, she said, “We need to have at least 10 new teams on board as soon as possible.”

Interested in getting involved? It’s pretty simple.

Start a Team

It only takes a few minutes to start a new team. Step one: Visit Step two: scroll down to Sign up for an Event and enter the Ellicottville zip code: 14731. Step three: Scroll to Relay for Life of Cattaraugus County, Ellicottville, NY and click on Sign Up. Step four: Click on Start a Team and follow the directions from there.

Join a Team

Follow steps one and two and three above, then click “Join a Team.”

Donate Through a Team

Follow steps one and two and three above, then click “Donate.”

It really is that easy.

The event will begin at noon on Saturday, June 7, and keeps going until late at night. Teams, families and spectators set up tents and cabanas around the track for the entire event.

The program begins with an opening ceremony at noon and the survivor’s lap — where survivors in attendance, most wearing purple T-shirts, walk amidst cheers and applause. The teams take over and continue walking until they collectively complete the 9.6-mile course.

Throughout the day, there are plenty of events for the entire community to enjoy, including a chicken BBQ and tons of other dining selections, a live auction, games for the kids, a DJ spinning tunes and much more. The most moving and beautiful event is the Luminaria Ceremony at 9:30 p.m., which honors loved ones who have survived or lost their battles with cancer by lighting candles that are placed in decorated bags.

Relay for Life, the world’s largest walk to end cancer, is a global fundraiser that honors cancer survivors, remembers loved ones lost and raises awareness about what we can do to stay well and prevent cancer. According to the ACS, more than 4 million people in some 20 countries raise as much as $400 million each year for the Relay for Life movement.

If you know, love, care for or are a cancer survivor, there is no better setting for a day of unity and support than Relay for Life.

Oh, and, if you own or know of a food service establishment that can donate part or all of a meal for the survivor’s reception, please call Crystal Page at (716) 341-4566.

For more information, visit