BUFFALO, N.Y. — With the 2021 Tree of Hope celebration about seven weeks away, everybody at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center is working hard to put on the large holiday event.
There's just one thing missing: A tree!
A few years ago, Senior Planner Craig Coyne and his team realized the live tree planted in Kaminski Park needed replaced.
"It just was unhappy," Coyne said. "We couldn't get it to grow. It unfortunately had to come down."
Since then, families in Western New York have donated trees that a team from Roswell cuts down and transports to the Medical Campus to be the centerpiece for the lighting.
"We had a donation from a couple who wanted to honor a friend who was a cancer patient," Coyne said. "Last year, we had a couple that wanted to honor their grandson, who was our patient."
"There's always a special story," said Rev. Dr. Melody Rutherford, Roswell Park's Director of Spiritual Care. "And there are always special people in the community that can give us that tree ... so the hunt is on, and we cannot wait for that wonderful tree to be delivered right here in our park."
Craig and his team would love to hear from Western New Yorkers who have a tree that fits the right description:
- Spruce or fir tree;
- 40 to 50 feet tall;
- 20 inches in diameter or less at the base of the trunk (or 62-inch circumference or less);
- No power lines between the tree and the street;
- Easy access for a large flatbed tractor trailer and large lifting equipment that will be used to remove the tree.
If you're interested in donating, you can call 1-800-ROSWELL (1-800-767-9355) or email ASKRoswell@RoswellPark.org. The team asks that you send a few pictures and make sure it looks good on all sides with no large holes or missing branches.
Rev. Dr. Rutherford said the 2021 Tree of Hope will be a hybrid model, with some elements virtual but with more people in the park compared to last year, when COVID rules were more restrictive. And there's something new this year.
"We're going to have what we call Luminaries of Hope," she said. "So those are the doctors, the donors, the patients and employees who will help really to light up the event from afar. So even as we are turning the light on here, they're going to be turning the light on throughout the city.
Mark your calendars! The lighting is Friday, December 10. There will be extensive coverage from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Channel 2 and on WGRZ.com.
"We're hoping with more people this year, we can really have a tree that's like, wow!" Coyne said.
For more information, check out Roswell Park's special page dedicated to the event at www.roswellpark.org/treeofhope.