Tree of Hope lighting tonight at Roswell Park
Buffalo, NY (WBEN) The Tree of Hope returns as an in-person lighting event for the first time since the pandemic Friday. Roswell Park President and CEO Dr. Candace Johnson calls it a day of celebration and hope for all who deal with cancer.
Johnson says this is a treasured event, not only for patients and their loved ones, but really for the whole staff. "It's time for us to celebrate sort of life and hope that all we want all of our patients to have," says Johnson. She says it's a very impactful ceremony. "We light candles to honor all of our patients and cancer survivors. We hold them up to the hospital, and hopefully they're all looking down seeing all the wonderful lights. And then we like the tree of hope," notes Johnson.
Johnson calls the tree a symbolic gesture of hope. "Cancer is a disease that, you know, when people hear that you have that diagnosis. It's sometimes hard to think about anything else because your life maybe flashes before you and and I think what Roswell Park provides is hope because there are many life saving curative treatments that are out there," explains Johnson.
Johnson says the tree is a 30 foot blue spruce donated by Bill Glendenning of Cheektowaga. "It was in his front yard and he heard we were looking for a tree and and he couldn't wait to to donate it and wait to see it lit up for all to see," says Johnson. The tree lighter is 8 year old Mya Cully. "She inspires all of us," says Johnson. Cully is a survivor of leukemia, and one doctor calls her the joy of Christmas.
Events are free and begin at 4:30pm. Santa Claus will be on hand, and carriage rides will be available. Johnson says for her, the holiday season doesn't begin until the tree lighting ceremony.