By Jann Wiswall

As many as 20 teams and 200 participants from all over Cattaraugus County are scheduled to participate in the annual Relay for Life, the signature fundraiser for the American Cancer Society, at the Ellicottville Central School track on June 1.

According to Dash Hegeman, an event organizer, the fundraising goal this year is $53,000 —  $5,000 more than was raised at last year’s very successful event.

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 Relay’s website, more than 4 million people in some 20 countries raise as much as $400 million each year for the Relay for Life movement. The American Cancer Society puts these donations to work, investing in groundbreaking research in every type of cancer and providing free information and services to cancer patients and their caregivers.

The Cattaraugus County event begins at noon on Saturday, June 1, and keeps going until midnight. Teams, families and spectators set up “camp” around the track for the entire event.  Throughout the day and into the night, members of each team take turns walking or running around the track until they collectively complete the 9.6 mile course.

This year, organizers are building a carnival theme around the event, with carnival-style games to keep participants of all ages entertained. There will be a great chicken BBQ dinner available ($8 includes 1/2 chicken, three sides and a bottled water). In addition, Jacob North, AKA “DJ Excite,” will be on hand all day long providing music, and there will be a live band (to be announced) playing from 4–6 p.m.

Because this is a team event, individual team members don’t have to be there the entire time, but most stick around for all the fun and family-friendly activities and camaraderie.

Perhaps the most important event of the day is the Honorary Survivor Speech and Opening Ceremony at noon, followed by the Survivor’s Lap at approximately 12:20 p.m. During the Survivors Lap, all cancer survivors at the event take the first lap around the track, celebrating their victory over cancer. Relay for Life events also recognize and celebrate caregivers, who give their time, love, and support to friends, family, neighbors and coworkers facing cancer

Get Involved

Teams, volunteers and sponsors are still needed in order to meet this year’s challenging fundraising goal. If you are interested in forming a team, joining an existing team, walking the Survivor Lap or donating to the cause, simply visit “Relay for Life of Cattaraugus County” at, where you’ll find everything you need to know.

Sponsors also are critically needed. To date, Coffee Culture has signed on as a Gold Sponsor and Great Valley Fire Department is an official Bronze Sponsor. If your business, organization or employer would like to sponsor the Relay for Life of Cattaraugus County, please contact Crystal Page at or call (716) 341-4566.

The next team meeting for Relay for Life of Cattaraugus County will be held on Wednesday, May 13 at 5 p.m. in the old board room of the Ellicottville Central School (lower level, Elementary side).

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