Niagara Gazette

June 8, 2013

LETTERS FROM THE ISLAND: Island readies for the Relay

By Doug and Polly Smith
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — Dear Mainland Runners — Forget the Belmont, for a real Triple Crown outing try our Relay for Life this weekend. You can more easily avoid our roundabout than you can avoid our Relay for Life.

For one thing, if you pop into Island Prescription Center, wear sunglasses (it doesn’t sell any, we don’t believe) before gazing at that purple quilt on the eastern wall. Words, at least ours, fail at describing the purple blaze, designed, sewn and contributed by Sue Miles and Colleen Eddy. They’ll take it down and raffle it off some time this afternoon at Veterans Park, the big multi-purpose green space off Bedell Road, a little to the north of our geographical center.

Then, as you grope out the door, one of the pharmacists may slip you a prescription bottle. We got one the other day, couldn’t figure out how Doug went out to get four refills and came home with five. It’s empty, labeled with a request to slip in a few loose coins and take it to the Relay for Life.

Wish we could say Islanders dreamed this up themselves, but they didn’t. It’s national, begun 28 years ago, when a doctor in Tacoma, Wash., let a few friends know he would try to run 24 hours, all the while soliciting funds for cancer research. The following year, more than 300 admirers joined him. From there to here, it’s been one long benevolent handoff, with other recent events on the Mainland in Niagara Falls and at Reservoir Park.

Here, registration begins at 1 p.m., and after considerable socializing and a volleyball tournament (ages 13-18), ceremonies begin at 6 p.m., followed by a survivors’ lap at 7, a glorious trot for those who’ve beaten cancer. Then come luminaires, (lighted candles in colorful bags), lighting the way from 10 p.m. as the individuals and relay teams step into one of the year’s shortest nights.

Many a local benevolence has merged into Relay for Life. For example, there’s the Good Old Reliable Lawnmower Race, June 16, along West River Parkway between Long Road and the appropriately-named Sunset Drive.

This has cut a swath through our Island almost ever since we arrived, now enhanced by a Classic Car Show and 5-kilometer walk memorializing Kevin Doring, who finally yielded in his own struggle with cancer in March. Every penny raised – Relay for Life.

When last we peeked, the total pledged was approaching six figures – that’s $100K, breaking down to about five bucks for each and every one of us. That’s what happens when folks pass the baton, but keep a firm grip on responsibility.

Come visit. Wear sneakers.

Polly and Doug E-mail pollyndoug@hotmail.com