| May 31, 2007

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Feature Article - 31, 2007

Luminaries at the fairgrounds

by Bill Bowick

One of the most moving parts of a Canadian Cancer Society Relay For Life event is the lighting of the luminaries. It is also one of the least understood. For most people, if they haven't been there, they just don't get it.

How do you describe the Relay For Life lighting of the luminaries experience? How do you describe love? How do you describe grief? How do you describe hope? You have to experience it to know what it means for you.

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When darkness sets in, as the sweet song of a single piper echoes in the silence of one’s thoughts and prayers, the luminary candles are lit one by one, lining the track with the gentle glow of white lanterns. An air of peace and tranquility emanates. We walk along the track, stopping to read each inscription, searching for our own. It’s with both elation and sadness that we find them - elation that they are being given a place among all the other heroes remembered that evening, but sadness that it is necessary for them to have been there in the first place. The message becomes clear. This battle is not just fought by one or two, or even a few. So many people are affected by this disease.

Luminary candles are lit in honour of loved ones who have won their battle or are still fighting, and in memory of loved ones who have lost their fight against cancer. There are tears of hope, and tears of remembrance. It’s a moving, beautiful ceremony.

It reminds me why I am taking part in Relay For Life. Losing a loved one leaves a void in our lives. Relay For Life acknowledges that void. It’s a way to share memories, express hope, and celebrate life.

The Canadian Cancer Society sells luminary candles to be lit at the Relay For Life Luminary Ceremony. Candles are $5 each and are set into special bags that bear the names of cancer survivors or those who have lost their battle with the disease, along with a message. They provide a silent vigil of light and inspiration all night for participants as they walk around the Relay track.

The Central Frontenac Relay For Life will be held on the ball field at the Parham Fairgrounds on Friday, June 1. The candle lighting ceremony will take place at about 10:00 p.m. If you are unable to participate in the Relay, you can still support your friends and celebrate the lives of those who have battled cancer by buying and dedicating a luminary.

The luminary chair for the Central Frontenac Relay is Michelle Greenstreet. To purchase luminaries, you may call her at 279-2800 or drop in at Fit Plus/Wine Plus at Road 38 and Clement. If you do not live in the area, you may order them online at www.cancer.ca/relay or call the local unit of the Canadian Cancer Society at 613 384-2361.

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