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Roswell to light Tree of Hope to celebrate life

Horse drawn carriage rides are a popular attraction at the Tree of Hope Lighting.

BY: Kaitlin Fritz, Metro Source | November 29, 2012

Every year, Roswell Park Cancer Institute hosts a holiday event that celebrates the lives of its patients and the memories of those who have lost their fight to cancer. This event, the Tree of Hope Lighting, has become an annual tradition at Roswell Park and the Kaminski Park and Gardens and has grown in attendance every year.

The Tree of Hope Lighting will take place from 4:30 until 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 7 at Roswell Park in the Kaminski Park and Gardens. There will be free parking in the Roswell parking garage.

Margarita Coyne, RN, MS and director of patient care services at Roswell Park Cancer Institute, has seen the impact that this event has had on the patients of Roswell. She believes that hosting this event is important for the patients and the community as a celebration of life, especially for the cancer survivors.

“These types of events give everyone a moment to pause and look at the year and to celebrate life,” she said.

The nurses of Roswell are a large part of the event each year and many even volunteer at the lighting in the event that someone may need their assistance. They also enjoy celebrating this holiday tradition with their patients.

“We enjoy the time that we have with our patients and over time, we develop relationships with them,” said Coyne. “It’s almost like we become part of the celebration. It’s a family celebration with the Roswell family.”

The Tree of Hope is one that has grown in the gardens at Roswell and is there for the entire year for patients to enjoy. It’s a symbol of hope for the patients and staff at Roswell and encourages them to not give up. For the holidays, it is lit in celebration and this year, it will be lit by a young cancer survivor from Carly’s Club for Kids and Cancer Research in WNY.

New this year will be the light show. Nearly 30,000 energy-efficient LED lights will flash and light up the park in rhythm with holiday music. These light shows will not only be on the night of the event but will be displayed between 5 and 10 p.m. every night, every half hour, for 13 minute shows. Patients and the rest of the community can watch this beautiful new display until Jan. 1.

Other fun activities for guests to enjoy at the Tree of Hope Lighting will be horse drawn carriage rides, which are a crowd favorite and even visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus. For the kids, there will be face painting and balloon art. Paul Strada will perform a live ice sculpting by making a holiday themed frozen sculpture.

Staff members at Roswell used their creativity to design several detailed gingerbread houses. On the night of the event, these houses will be raffled off to support Roswell Park’s Celebration of Life cancer survivor’s event.

There will also be several pieces of merchandise for sale that were designed by patients at Roswell. Coyne said that this was a great way to integrate patient participation into the event.

A candle ceremony will also be held as a way of paying tribute to those we’ve lost and to those who are fighting.

This event is open to the public and to anyone who has had their life touched by cancer. Registration is highly recommended for this event and the deadline to register is Dec. 3. More than 1,000 people have already registered. This is an outdoor event. All guests are encouraged to dress appropriately as Buffalo winters are quite unpredictable. To register, call 1-877-ASK-RPCI or visit RoswellPark.org/TreeofHope.

Those who cannot attend the event are asked to light up their homes on the evening of the event as a community celebration and show of support for those who have lost their battle with cancer and those who are currently fighting it.

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