Passing the baton of hope

By Observer editorial July 19, 2013 10:42 am
All of us know a family member or friend who has lost a battle with cancer, is battling cancer or is in recovery from cancer.

It’s a jarring experience. Not just to the person diagnosed but to his or her loved ones and caretakers.

The Relay for Life helps fill the void. The annual relay, held this weekend, is designed to celebrate life and remember those who have fought back against the disease.

The event includes a survivor dinner, a glow-in-the-dark volleyball tournament, music, a purple hour, a pajama hour and a hot dog-eating contest.

Relay for Life also includes sobering moments. One is the Survivors Lap, in which cancer survivors at the event take the first lap around the track, celebrating their victory over cancer. 

Another sobering moment is the Luminaria Ceremony. It takes place after dark. It’s a chance to remember people lost to cancer, honor people who have fought cancer and support those whose fight lingers on. Candles are lit inside of bags and are placed around the track as tributes to those who’ve had their lives turned upside down by cancer.

The event also recognizes caregivers, who give love and support to friends and family as well as neighbors and coworkers battling cancer.

Cancer is a common enemy. Some 1,660,290 new cancer cases and 580,350 cancer deaths are projected to occur in the United States in 2013. One in four deaths in the United States is due to cancer.

Last year, the La Grande event raised $34,000 for the American Cancer Society. Here’s hoping this year’s event can raise even more.