Relay for Life Luminaria Ceremony: Shining a light in the fight

By Kelsi Gately

Staff Writer

 Photo by Kelsi Gately.

Photo by Kelsi Gately.

In the darkness of night on the track, a glow-stick shines to represent those who have won, are fighting or have lost to cancer.

The Luminaria Ceremony at the annual Relay for Life event is a way friends and family members honor and remember those who lost the fight against cancer. It is a time to celebrate those who are survivors and support those who are still fighting. Students gathered in silence at the UWF track on Friday night as event leaders read “Why we Relay.”

“Cancer turns lives upside down,” read co-event lead James Hebbel. “Relationships, loyalties and friendships are tested … The diagnosis of cancer can be a very long journey — one that is very difficult to travel alone.”

After the readings, everyone walked the track in silence to show support of those who have had to fight. As participants walked, the word HOPE on the grass changed to CURE, to represent that the fight continues every day. Luminary bags lined the track with names of friends, mothers, fathers and grandparents, all lit in different colors: purple, to honor survivors; blue, to remember those who have passed; and red to support those still fighting.

“It was an exceptional ceremony,” said Jessica Pearson, junior elementary education major. “It was an emotional moment for me, remembering my Grammy who just recently passed away. I appreciate all the work and dedication given to this event.”

It is hard to explain the emotion that overtakes someone when they remember loved ones.

“It was a wonderful ceremony to commemorate students’ family members who have passed and how we all come together to support classmates,” Bailey Williams, freshman business major at Pensacola State College, said. “It’s a great cause, and I’m proud to be part of this event.”

As the night continued through until its ending at 2 a.m., the luminaria bags continued to shine, and students shared stories, love and support with those cancer has affected.

To find out more about the event, check out the Facebook Page.

Want to read more about Relay for Life? Click here to check out Kenny Detwyler’s article on what Relay has done for the University.