The American Cancer Society's Relay for Life is returning to Malverne for its third consecutive year.
Preparations for the May 3 event will begin Wednesday, Jan. 9, with a kick-off meeting at Howard T. Herber Middle School at 7 p.m. The meeting, which is open to everyone, provides an opportunity for people to learn more about Relay For Life and how to get involved.
Paul Gruol, director of special events for the American Cancer Society, spoke at the Jan. 2 village board meeting, explaining the history of Relay for Life in Malverne.
It was Bill Holzapfel, a long-time Malverne resident and ACS volunteer, and Michael Taylor, a Lakeview resident, president of the Malverne Wildcats youth football program and now a school board trustee, who brought Relay to the community in 2011. They served as co-chairs of the event for the past two years.
"Together they created an amazing event that's still being talked about today," Gruol said.
Tragically, Holzapfel, 58, who was known to many as "Wild Bill," suffered a fatal heart attack in July while on a fishing trip upstate.
"He was taken from us suddenly this summer while doing what he enjoyed ... being with his family, friends and fishing," Gruol stated. "I am very grateful that Michael Taylor has committed to seeing the legacy contine to honor Bill and the communty of Malverne he loved so much ... and I am committed to Michael."
The Relay for Life event features a survivors' dinner, a kick-off ceremony, an all-night walk-a-thon, live performances, food and the lighting of the luminarias, candelit bags bearing the names and faces of loved ones who have battled cancer.
Participants can purchase luminarias, sign-up as individuals or teams, and donate, all helping to raise money for the American Cancer Society.
Last spring, more than 500 people turned out for Malverne's Relay For Life event and raised more than $32,000. The goal is to continue to grow each year.
"We are ordinary people who do extraordinary things in the fight against cancer," stated Gruol, encouraging everyone to attend the Jan. 9 kick-off event.
"Malverne might be a small village with little town charm," he added," but it has a larger than life spirit and compassion for others."