05/11/04 — Relay luminaria service will honor deceased

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Relay luminaria service will honor deceased

By Becky Barclay
Published in News on May 11, 2004 2:02 PM

Four special hearts will light up the bleachers at this year's Relay for Life.

The Wayne County Unit of the American Cancer Society's Relay will be held Friday and Saturday at Eastern Wayne High School. The luminaria service starts at 9 p.m. Friday.

In past years, there has been one heart honoring someone who is fighting cancer or for remembering someone who lost their battle with the disease. This year will be different, honoring several people.

Debbie Pennell, luminaria chairman, said this year's luminaria ceremony is dedicated to some special people.

"We've had so many people in Wayne County in the past year that have been touched by cancer, and we've lost some really special people," she said. "We just couldn't decide on one special person we wanted to honor this year, and we wanted to honor several different people."

This year, four hearts will honor the following people who died from cancer: Meredith Stancil; Dean Cooke; Eunice and Bill Davis, a brother and sister who participated in the survivor's lap at last year's Relay and who lost their battle with cancer within a few months of each other; and Carole Moore.

There will also be a heart for Patricia Warren, the Relay's honorary chairman.

Mrs. Pennell said the luminaria ceremony is a time to "remember, to honor and to pay tribute to those who have fought the battle and survived and to those who did not win the battle.

"It's also a time to thank the ones who have dedicated themselves to the treatment and cure of cancer and the ones that give of themselves tirelessly to make this fight a little easier."

This year's luminaria goal is 5,000. There were about 3,700 luminarias last year, she said.

In addition to the four hearts, luminarias will also spell out the word "hope" in the bleachers.

The track will be lined with luminarias purchased in honor or memory of someone with cancer or to thank someone who has helped in the fight.

Bags will line the track and will be in alphabetical order, Mrs. Pennell said.

At the luminaria ceremony on Friday night, a family representative for each of the heart recipients will light the first candle in the heart. Then others who purchased luminarias can light their luminarias.

Boy Scouts from Troop 59 of Grantham will also help light the luminarias and keep them burning throughout the night. They place all the bags on the track, make the hearts, keep the luminarias lit and take them up at the end of the Relay.

The Scouts have done this for several years. "They look forward to it every year," Mrs. Pennell said. "They camp out at the Relay overnight Friday. They really do a lot of hard work for that."

The Royal Descendants will provide music for the luminaria ceremony. Luminarias may still be purchased for $10 each by calling Mrs. Pennell at 739-7905.

"When you look at these bags that are placed around the track, it is important to remember that they are more than just paper, wood and wax -- each candle represents a person," said Mrs. Pennell. "Even though we could not create a heart for each person at the luminaria service, each and every person will always be in our heart."