Big hope for big relay

Dream Big, Hope Big, Relay Big – that’s the message the American Cancer Society wants to spread this year through its Relay for Life.

The Dunkirk-Fredonia Relay for Life chapter kicked off its 2013 fund-raising season this week with a celebration in Fredonia while embracing that message.

“Big, big, big,” Co-chair Cathy Gilvin exclaimed as the meeting opened at the Fredonia First United Methodist Church. “That’s what it’s going to be this year,” she explained.

Community Executive Mike Porpiglia said 2013 is “an exciting year for the American Cancer Society because it is in its 100th year.” To celebrate, relay team themes were based around decades, drawn at random. Teams drew a decade from the 1930s through 2010 to use as themes for their team camps, clothing and other decorations. They were also asked to research the ACS website to learn what advances in cancer research happened during their drawn decade and include this information in their camp displays.

The Dunkirk-Fredonia chapter is celebrating its own anniversary, as it is in its 15th year of holding the event in the area. Some of the teams represented at the kickoff have continuously been participants in the race for all 15 years, according to Porpiglia.

Many relay team members were present to accept awards for their accomplishments last year. The Rising Star category is for teams which raised more than $1,000, which included 12 teams. Gilvin said it was a very high number of teams, with three raising over $2,000 each.

The bronze category is for teams which raised more than $2,500. Four teams, SUNY Fredonia, Orange Patrol, Homey’s Heros and United Healthcare: United Hands for Cure, filled this category.

At the silver level, five teams raised over $3,500, Sisterhood, Lake Erie Regional Healthcare System, Fredonia First United Methodist Church, Rescue a Life, and a team from Carriage House, which was only $5 short of raising $5,000 to make the gold level. A team representative present said she didn’t know what the team would be named this year, but would continue in the relay.

The gold level teams were the Missing Links and Lake Shore Savings Bank while platinum sponsorship of $7,500 teams were the Irving Volunteer Fire Department and Kosciuszko Club/Paper Factory teams. Cott for the Cure and Lucky 777 were the highest, or jade, level teams, which each brought in over $10,000.

Individual fund-raising efforts were also recognized. The amounts raised by 34 individuals totaled almost $22,000, with 14 at the 4250 level. Porpiglia asked those present if they were aware of the individual sponsorship opportunity, and said he believed not enough people know they could raise money without joining a team.

The money raised helps fund cancer research. In total, over $124,000 was raised by the local group last year, with 644 participants on 47 teams. Of those, 152 participants were cancer survivors. “We’ve got to get more survivors in,” Gilvin said. Porpiglia said he is happy to see the number of participants grow. “I don’t like to just focus on the money. I like to see people get involved,” he explained.

This year, the event will be held on June 8 at the SUNY Fredonia track, with registration beginning at 10 a.m. Participants may register any time online at or by calling 1-800-ACS-2345.

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