decorated luminaria bags

Luminaria Ceremony: American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life

There were a lot of children participating in the West Sacramento American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life event. Some who were inflicted with the awful disease but many who had family members that were battling the disease or had lost their life to it. These kids especially touched me as they spoke about their loved ones.

10 year old decorates luminaria bags

One young ten year old especially touched my heart as I was able to work with her at the Luminaria table. She volunteered a few hours decorating bags for loved ones who were not able to decorate their own bags. She had told me about many family members that had cancer. Her aunt got cancer awhile she was pregnant and lost her baby. Her papa whom she was the closest to of all the grandchildren, lost his life to cancer. Her story was of determination to fight the cancer. She knew by giving her time to this event that we would be that much closer to fighting this deadly disease that has impacted her young life.

5 year old carries luminaria bags for Relay for Life

Another little boy, only five years old, he was a doll! He helped us load all the luminaria bags onto the trailer for distribution around the field. He placed each bag so carefully as if he was remembering each person that the bag represented. It was quite amazing to watch. He looked at each bag and was sure to place the artwork in one direction. I later caught up with him awhile he was selling light sticks for the evening show to thank him for his hard work and diligence. He understood why he was at the event. At his young age of five, he had been impacted by the disease. He was there to help fight it.

Kids help at the American Cancer Society Relay for life.

Kids help at the American Cancer Society Relay for life.

Kids help at the American Cancer Society Relay for life.

Many young adults were there lending a helping hand. They were there because they are givers and wanted to help. Yes, Mom and Dads, your young adults have kind hearts. Yes, America, there are good people out there…our kids are not what the news always represents. There is so much more then what we hear on the news. These young adults helped all Friday evening to set up, returned Saturday morning at 6am to help and stayed until 10pm. (I am sure they showed up Sunday to help break everything down, too!) They stayed working…and giving from their heart. They didn’t have to be there. Many of their parents were not there. These young adults were there because they had heard about the event from a friend and decided to be part of the Relay for Life.

Kids help decorate luminaria bags at the American Cancer Society Relay for life.

Another Mom and her young daughter worked with me all day at the luminaria table. They were there because they knew the event volunteer coordinator and she had mentioned the event. They didn’t have any plans that day so they thought they would come out for a few hours to help. They got so wrapped up in the event that they volunteered for 13 hours! From a few hours to 13 hours! Why did they stay that long? They got trapped (in a good way) to the energy of the day. They were surrounded by love and enthusiasm for life and hope…hope that there would be a cure for cancer one day.

There was so much positive energy during the day as the music played in the background and relay groups continued to walk around the track. Some walked in solitude awhile others walked in big groups.

decorated luminaria bags

cancer family member decorates luminaria bag

Did I do a bag for my Dad?  I have to confess I did not. I thought about it. I wanted to do a bag but yet I didn’t. I hadn’t volunteered there because of my Dad. I had volunteered there because of all the other families. Besides I didn’t want to deal with my emotions that day. I was there to serve, to listen, to show compassion. I watched as many people decorated their bags. Some smiled because their bags were in honor of someone who was cancer free for several years. But there was those who you could tell it was hard to sit and write the name of the loved one they had lost…the one they were writing in memory of…. Lots of emotions went into those bags.

This day wasn’t about me.
It wasn’t about my Dad and the cancer he suffers with.

This day was giving, listening and being present for others.

I will come back to this event some day not as a volunteer but as a participant. Some day when I want to honor my Dad for all the cancer battles he has fought…but for this day only….I am thinking about all the other people that are here and the burdens on their heart and in their mind because of this nasty ugly deadly disease.

Yes, during the luminaria ceremony, I shed a tear or two for my Dad but I quickly shut those tears off and focused on all the loved ones that were on that football field…at that moment.

I hope each and everyone of you keep moving forward to helping fight this battle. It would be awesome to say that we have conquered this ugly disease. That the event is now….a Relay of Life NOT a Relay of life to fight cancer.

Thank you to all the volunteers and relay teams for allowing me to experience your stories, your emotions and your love. I will carry your stories in my heart…..

Holding on to HOPE…..

Pam

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7 thoughts on “Luminaria Ceremony: American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life”

  1. Pam, I’m so proud of you. What a wonderful event to participate in. Loved this post – the stories, pictures, everything!

    Blessings,

    Jerri

    1. Thank you, Jerri, for your kind words! I know your business is doing its part in fighting skin cancer by encouraging women of all ages to avoid the sun. Thank you for all that you contribute to the fight against cancer.

      Here is to spray tans! The healthy choice!
      Pam

  2. It is so great that you did this, Pam. Nothing like getting out there and helping others. I need to do it myself! Good job 🙂

    1. I had a great time and meant some great people, too. It is amazing what it can do for our attitude and our own “little world” when we reach out beyond our own life. It is so easy to forget to volunteer. I saw on the Relay for Life website that they have these events all over the place!

  3. Hi Pam,
    You did such a good job of writing about what you did and including the photos with the captions. What a great way to spend the day and you must have left there feeling so great about yourself. It is such a good cause and we need to find the cure. Hopefully the money raised will help research. Keep up the good work!

    1. Hi, Terry,
      Definitely feels good to give! Yes, we definitely need to find a cure! I can’t believe my poor Dad has the disease again. First some skin cancer…then lung cancer….followed by prostate cancer…and NOW he has cancer again! It is an ugly disease that we must find a cure for.

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