The park was overflowing with tents, each housing a different fundraiser to benefit the American Cancer Society. More than 30 teams signed up to raise money for the walk, which circled the park.
“It’s not too hard to get this community up and going,” said Sadie Szrama, a member of the American Cancer Society who helped organize the event. “It’s a very loving, nice community, so people are very responsive.”
The twelve hour event, which lasted from noon to midnight, had raised over $46,000 online before the event had started. Szrama said another $10,000 to $15,000 was expected to be raised at the event, breaking the record set last year of $54,000.
The opening ceremony featured cancer survivor John McKenzie, who told his story of fighting prostate cancer to the participants in the park, and emphasized the importance of regular exams and testing.
“I want to make sure that these young adults here never have to go through worrying about how the biopsy will come back, or how they are going to sit down and explain to their families what the results of the tests were,” McKenzie said. “And with everyone’s continued help, we will accomplish this.”
Those who had survived their battles with cancer were then called forward to receive a sash to go with their purple t-shirt in recognition. The survivors then made a solo first lap around the park with banner in hand to kick start the twelve hour walk.
The theme for the day was board games, and throughout the day, participants could take part in many themed events, including Human Battleship and “dress like a game piece.” Entertainment was scheduled throughout the day, starting with the Pot Luck Band, following with the Biggest Little Band, Doughnut Holes Band, Kinetic Revolution Band, the Select Choir, Val Fowler and John Stills.
At 9:00 p.m., luminary bags decorated in remembrance of those who have passed, were lit around the track circling the park, followed by a remember ceremony and slideshow of people who have been touched by cancer. The closing ceremony at midnight charged people to go out and fight back cancer all year long.
The Relay for Life has been an annual event in Honeoye Falls for over a decade, and this year’s has been in the works since September. A committee of 15 people met at the First Presbyterian church once a month to organize the event, including the event schedule and gathering all of the teams to participate.
Each year, more that 3.5 million people participate nationally in the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. Funds raised go not only towards cancer research, but towards helping those stricken with cancer get well and stay well.
“This year I will be celebrating my twelfth year as being cancer free,” McKenzie said during the opening ceremony. “Myself and all my survivor friends out here tonight are living proof that we can and will kick cancer’s butt.”