Niagara Gazette — This was a year of change for the Niagara Falls Relay For Life. And none were bigger than the change of location which brought the annual American Cancer Society fundraiser to the foot of Old Falls Street and the doorstep of one of its largest supporters.
Entering its fifth year, organizers felt Old Falls Street presented new options for teams, which many of them took advantage of Saturday afternoon.
“This was kind of like a trial year in a way,” Katelyn Steiner, a volunteer with Hard Rock Cafe, said. “We’ve seen a lot of tourists coming through, checking out the tents. I think it’s sparked more attention than in the past.”
Steiner, part of a volunteer group of Hard rock Cafe employees called the Ambassador Program, said Hard Rock – one of the Niagara Falls event’s major sponsors – stepped up its participation for the second year in a row. Moving the event to Old Falls Street allowed the restaurant to provide its VIP tent to survivors and access to the kitchen itself, some 500 feet from where participants were fighting for an end to cancer.
After fully catering the Survivor’s Dinner last year, Hard Rock decided to provide participants with lunch as well this year. And for the first time at any Relay For Life, the backdrop of the event Saturday night featured the cataract behind participants lit up purple.
It’s an effort, Steiner said, to complement the restaurant’s participation in the American Cancer Society’s Pinktober event.
“It’s sort of a mirror to Pinktober, where we light the Falls up pink,” Steiner said of the event, which also features a living ribbon across the Rainbow Bridge connecting participants on both sides of the international border.
Organizers from the American Cancer Society also approved the change in scenery because the Old Falls Street location allowed the event to showcase one of the brightest spots in downtown Niagara Falls.