05/01/05 — Luminarias will honor cancer victims, survivors

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Luminarias will honor cancer victims, survivors

By Becky Barclay
Published in News on May 1, 2005 2:03 AM

A white paper bag containing a little sand and a candle might seem like a small way to remember someone who has died from cancer or to honor someone who is battling the disease, but when you put 6,000 of them together the effect is something special.

Organizers of the annual Relay for Life say that expanse of light is what they expect to see at the event, which will be May 13-14 at Wayne Community College.

Debbie Pennell, who is chairman of the luminaria committee for the event, said there were 5,403 luminarias last year. This year's goal is 6,000.

A luminaria is a white bag that has the Relay for Life logo on it. Sand is placed inside , and a small candle is placed on top.

"It's just a special way to remember someone who has lost his or her battle with cancer or to honor someone who is fighting the battle," Mrs. Pennell said.

She said luminarias can be purchased in memory of someone who has lost his or her battle with cancer, in honor of someone who is a cancer survivor or to thank someone who has helped you through your cancer ordeal.

They are $10 each and may be purchased by calling Mrs. Pennell at 739-7905 or 736-3030 or from any Relay participant.

The luminarias are put in alphabetical order and placed around the track and in various places on the grounds the first day of the Relay for Life.

Luminarias must be purchased by May 5 to guarantee they will be placed in alphabetical order at the event. After that date, if luminarias might still be available, but cannot be placed in alphabetical order.

Boy Scout Troop 59 of Grantham will place the luminarias at the Relay. "With us expecting 6,000 luminarias, that's going to take a lot of back power," Mrs. Pennell said.

"It's a big job. But they've done this for the past several years. Without them, it would be almost impossible to get it done."

Luminarias may also be purchased for four special people this year. They will be placed in heart shapes during the Relay.

This year's hearts will be dedicated in memory of the late Dr. Ed Hogan, a professor at Wayne Community College; in memory of Florence White, a Cancer Society volunteer who was killed in a car accident last year; in honor of Olivia Whaley, this year's honorary Relay chairman; and in honor of Brenda Herritt, a local woman who has battled cancer twice and has been co-captain of her Relay team for several years.

The luminaria ceremony will be May 13 at 9 p.m. "At that time, we have a prayer and talk about the luminarias," Mrs. Pennell said.

"We also light the luminarias, starting with the hearts. Lighters are passed out for others to light the luminarias, too.

"In past years at Eastern Wayne High School, we've turned off the lights on the football field during the ceremony. We're hoping to be able to do that at the college this year."

During the lighting ceremony, the Royal Descendants will provide background music as people walk around the track lit by the luminarias.

The luminarias will be taken up May 14 starting at 9 a.m. Anyone who would like to keep any of them should pick them up at that time.

Mrs. Pennell strongly encourages everyone to come out to the luminaria ceremony.

"To me, what the luminaria ceremony is, is a way of remembering or honoring someone," she said. "It gives me a chance to think back about the good times I used to have with my best friend who died with cancer.

"I have another friend who is a cancer survivor and lives out of town. But she's always at our luminaria ceremony. We walk the track together and that's our time to shed a few tears and really realize what we're doing, why we're there, why we're raising money and how important it is to find a cure for cancer."