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Shining bright in memory

Families and friends will join together in a solemn vigil on the evening of May 18 during the lighting of luminarias at Suffolk Relay for Life.

The luminaria ceremony celebrates and honors those that have died from cancer and those that are still fighting the disease. People will purchase bags that will be lit around the track at Nansemond River High School, where Relay will take place.

Those participating will do a silent lap around the track to the light of the luminarias. Then there will be a reading that will deliver Relay’s message: remember those that we’ve lost and celebrate those that are still here.

“Last year the reading was about going through life with cancer, and the trials and tribulations of that,” said Luminaria Chair Cathy Richards. “It’s like a memorial story.”

The ceremony is quiet — with all electronic sounds and lights cut off. Loved ones will be together by bag and torch light. There will be hugs and tears as they remember and look forward.

“You see people that have gone through cancer and beat it. Everybody just comes together to support each other at whatever stage of the journey that they are in. It’s just very moving,” Richards said.

Relay for Life of Suffolk will be held on May 18 at Nansemond River High School, 3301 Nansemond Parkway.

Survivors and supporters alike will be engaged from noon to 10 p.m. with laps around the school track, fundraising activities held by different teams, live entertainment and food vendors.

Following the opening ceremony at noon, there will be non-stop laps that will include survivor and caregiver laps, along with festive alternatives to keep people moving.

The lighting of the luminarias will be at 9 p.m. Bags are available for purchase online for $10 and on the day of the event as well. These will be personalized to honor loved ones and placed around the track.

As of Wednesday evening, about $51,193 has been raised towards this year’s $150,000 goal, with 17 days to go. Visit relayforlife.org/suffolkva for upcoming deadlines and updates to the event’s schedule. Registration for the event is free.

The website also lists upcoming Relay for Life events that will have luminaria bags for sale, as well.

Those interested in registering as a vendor or who have other questions can contact Tara Asare, community development manager for Relay for Life of Suffolk, by email at tara.asare@cancer.org or by calling 493-7972.