Last Saturday was the Freeborn County Relay for Life held at the Freeborn County Fairgrounds in Albert Lea, MN. It was a successful event with 32 teams participating and raising $72,684.47 as of this writing. Part of the fundraising is through sales of luminarias that people personalize and set out for the lighting ceremony. A luminaria is a white paper sack about the size of a lunch bag. It is partially filled with sand for weight and slight fire proofing. Each luminaria contains a votive candle that is lit during the lightning ceremony. A high school classmate of mine made a beautiful luminaria in Lucy’s memory along with more than a dozen others honoring or memorializing other cancer warriors.
Freeborn County, Minnesota is not heavily populated. The 2010 Federal Census lists 31,255 county residents with 18,016 of the people living in Albert Lea. No other community in the county has 1,000 residents, and there are several communities that have populations under 100 or remain unincorporated. I have been unable to find out how many luminarias there were along the both sides of the half-mile Relay for Life route. There were several other areas off the route held a couple of hundred more luminarias. My guess is the participants created between 2,500 and 3,000 luminarias, and that guess is probably low.
It is during the lighting ceremony that one sees the full enormity of cancer. A tiny light here, another point of light there quickly became parallel ribbons of light. Each of the luminarias honored a survivor still battling cancer or memorialized a loved one whose battle ended. Each luminaria represented the love and support of the family and friends of those cancer warriors, the thousands of lives affected by cancer, and the hope that darkness of cancer is eradicated someday.
Thank you, Nadine, for remembering Lucy. It was an honor to participate with you and to honor your successful battle. Please keep me in mind for next year’s Relay for Life. Thank you to the Cummins Filtration “Filter Out Cancer” team for your hospitality and support. I have posted more pictures of the Relay for Life in my photo gallery. If anyone has pictures to share, please contact me using the contact form at the end of this post. I will happily credit the photographer.
Many of you have a loved one battling cancer or are battling cancer yourself. Draw on the love and support of your family and friends. Like the luminarias lit at the Relay of Life, each person on your support team is a light in the darkness. When it seems like darkness prevails, remember that candles at night shine oh so bright.