Illuminating with Hope and Inspiration

Updated: Apr 4, 2019

By Jeannie Howard

Year after year the reach of cancer continues to spread, touching the lives of countless individuals. While feelings of helpless can often take over, a small, yet significant, way that individuals can contribute to the fight and find solace is by connecting with others dealing with cancer. For more than thirty years, The American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life events, held throughout the year across the nation, are a powerful conduit for healing and fundraising.

“This event is a way to find others in similar situations and to realize that we are not the only ones,” described Frank Biafore, event lead for the Relay for Life East Shore event. “It can also be a very emotional community supporting event.”

The Relay for Life East Shore will take place from 10 a.m. Saturday, August 11 to 10 a.m. Sunday, August 12 at Cerrito Vista Park. “It is a 24-hour walking event because people with cancer have to deal with it 24-hours a day,” he said. Kicking off the event will be an opening ceremony honoring individuals that have been affected by cancer, followed by the survivor walk, which is open to all cancer survivors. Closing the first day is the visually and emotionally powerful Luminaria Ceremony when hundreds of crisp white bags containing lights, each representing a life, are lit.

“At dusk, the bags are illuminated, lighting the entire track like little stars,” Biafore said, describing the Luminaria Ceremony. According to the American Cancer Society, this ceremony is a symbol of the darkness that patients feel when they are diagnosed becoming illuminated by hope and inspiration. The luminaria bags can be dedicated in memory of a person who has lost their life to cancer, in support of a person fighting cancer, and in honor of a person who has either won their battle with cancer or for a caregiver. Relay participants are welcome to write messages to, and the names of, their loved ones affected by cancer. “We will be reading all of the names honored on the luminaria bags. It is the most moving ceremony,” he said. Luminaria bags are available online or at the event for a suggested $10 donation.