Scotland County’s Relay for Life celebration regularly raises more than $200,000 for cancer research, but they include one ceremony with an even greater impact.
Luminaries inscribed with the name of a cancer survivor or deceased patient, are arranged in the bleachers of Pate Stadium, spelling out the central themes of Relay: “hope,” “life,” and “cure.” Around 8:30 p.m. on the first evening of Relay, candles will be lit in each luminary bag and a 45-minute period of silence observed. This year’s event is planned for Sept. 21-22.
So far, Lorelei Dean and her daughter Brittany, who have handled luminaries for nearly a decade, have prepared over 350 for this year’s event.
“I think for the last three weeks, every day that I’ve been to the post office, there’s been at least one luminary in the mailbox,” Brittany Dean said.
As they prepare the bags and enter names into a computer to be included in the slide show, the Deans note names that have become familiar over the years as well as names for whom multiple luminaries have been submitted. One year, 95 luminaries were purchased in honor of the same person. Lorelei Dean noted several names of those she remembered as cancer patients when she moved to Laurinburg in 1995 and began working in a physician’s office.
“A lot of the patients’ names will come through and you have good memories of some of the folks that you knew, and you get some of the in honors and you’re like wow, I didn’t know she had cancer,” Dean said.
Those purchasing luminaries can opt to decorate them personally for a unique tribute to a loved one.
“A lot of people have started where they want to decorate their own bags,” said Dean. “Some of them are really cute. Some of the ones that the decorate themselves, they’ll do it for Papa or Mimi and they have all of these little stickers and a child colors them. Some of them have put pictures on there and a lot of them will go the day after Relay and pick the bags up and take them home with them.”
The names of the individuals on luminaries will also be included on a poster board to be displayed at Relay. Luminaries should be submitted by Wednesday evening to be included on the board. Luminaries can be purchased until Friday evening for inclusion in the service, however.
“We’ve had people come running up at the last minute with tears streaming down asking if it’s too late,” Dean said.
But she always accommodates.
“Once you get started, you just can’t give it up, it’s for such a good cause,” said Dean. “I think I have purple blood.”
Luminaries can be purchased for $10 each through Relay teams, online at www.relayforlife.org, by dropping them off at Associated Realty in Laurinburg, or by calling Dean at 318-2615. Luminaries will also be available on Saturday morning in the Holly Square shopping center between Captain D’s restaurant and BB&T. T-shirts, baked goods, and fund raiser raffle tickets will also be on sale, with proceeds directed to Relay for Life.