Relay for Life set for Friday

Published 3:41 pm Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Hundreds of community members are expected to gather at the Greenville YMCA Friday night to fight.

The fight won’t be accompanied by the flashing blue lights of police cruisers, but rather by the soft glow of luminaries as the group joins the fight against cancer and pauses to remember the lives lost to the disease and celebrate those who have survived. The 2012 Butler County Relay for Life will begin at 6 p.m.

“A luminaria is a lighted bag that’s around the walking track with a candle in it,” said Luminaria Chairman Ethelyn Watson said. “They are all lighted and the whole track is illuminated with it in the candles from the bags that are in memory of or in honor of someone.”

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Watson said each luminaria is $5 and can be purchased until 7 p.m. on Friday. She said about 200 have been purchased but the event typically averages around 500.

“We have to have a list of preachers to read ‘in-memory names,’” Watson said. “We have someone singing and we have the torch ceremony. Last year we had 24 (torches) and as of right now have 15.”

Torches are $100 and can also continue to be purchased until the ceremony. As family or friends light the torch, a picture of the person being remembered will appear on a large screen.

Complete silence will fall over the track while community members search for his or her luminaria in honor or memory of someone.

“It’s very touching and inspiring,” Watson said. “They stay lit the whole time, and it’s a beautiful glowing tribute. It’s just at time that everyone is touched by cancer. This shows that we’re fighting to find a cure for cancer. Maybe in our lifetime we might see that realized.”

The Luminaria ceremony is scheduled to begin at 9 p.m.

Thirty-one Relay for Life teams will set up camp with decorations celebrating this year’s theme of “Rocking to the Oldies.”

Galahad Smith, Relay for Life event chairman, said it is a time for the community to come out to the free event to take part in a variety of activities and ceremonies occurring throughout the night.

“All the teams come and bring a tent or campsite in which they surround the track, and each team brings their grills and chairs and cookout,” Smith said. “It’s a great big community get together.”

Some of the events include a car show, a cakewalk, a hula-hoop contest, tug-of-war and performances by Southland Vocal Band. Smith said this year there will be a concession stand for the public.

He said the event will stay true to its name and will actually be a relay.

“We have a track, and we try to keep someone on the track all night with at least one person from each team,” Smith said. “We begin the evening with a survivor lap because we’re there to support our survivors.”