Relay For Life was a beautiful event

Published 8:03 am Tuesday, April 24, 2012

If you missed stopping by the Relay For Life at Bainbridge Middle School on Friday, you missed a wonderfully touching event.

Although I had a previous mandatory engagement that didn’t allow me to attend the opening ceremony or survivors lap, I was able to stop by later as it was turning dark. The sight of countless citizens doing laps on the middle-school track was inspiring, but after the track was cleared and the luminaria ceremony began, the inspiration leapt to a new level.

To try and set the scene for you, imagine a running track (approximately 1/4-mile for one lap) surrounded on the inside perimeter by countless candles inside paper bags. Each paper bag represents a local person, or a person’s friend or family member, who has either had cancer or has died from cancer. If you need an image of just how pervasive cancer is, all you would have to do is look at those candles illuminating the track in the twilight of Friday evening.

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However, the rest of the luminaria ceremony was even more beautiful. All of the lights at the track were turned out, so that the only illumination came from those candles. At the same time, a narrator solemnly read the names of those people who have had their lives touched by cancer, as well as several inspirational poems about fighting the disease.

The track was silent as those names were read, the hundreds of faces at the BMS track lit by nothing more than the candles and the moonlight. It really made it clear just why we work so hard every year to make Relay For Life as successful as it can be.

According to Relay For Life chairman Beverly Shirley, the goal for this year was $59,000, and the unofficial total raised was $78,463. That is truly a testament to the character of our community and the care we have for our friends and neighbors.

I was thrilled to see many young people out at the BMS track, either selling items for fundraisers for Relay, lighting luminaria candles, or just taking the time to walk laps in memory of a family member or loved one. So often, we hear that our teenagers and young people aren’t responsible, or are selfish, or are lazy, and there’s no way you could say that about those who came out to the BMS track Friday night and Saturday morning.

The countless volunteers and committee members who put on this year’s Relay For Life did a truly excellent job. When you add their work to the work of Relay For Life events across the country, hopefully one day we will actually win the fight and develop a cure to defeat this horrible disease.

Justin Schuver is the managing editor of The Post-Searchlight. Email him at