American Cancer Society to host luminaria ceremony

Published 9:59 am Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The American Cancer Society is holding a special luminaria ceremony this weekend to remember those who passed away from cancer and bring hope to those still fighting.

The event will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 19 at the Cass County COA’s walking track, which is located at 60525 Decatur Rd. in Cassopolis.

Mike Megyesi, a community coordinator for the American Cancer Society, said the “Night of Hope” is essentially a make-up date for luminaria ceremonies that were either shortened or canceled because of inclement weather during Relay for Life events in Dowagiac, Niles and Kalamazoo.

“We’ve invited people from communities all throughout southwest Michigan to attend,” Megyesi said.

There is no charge to attend and organizers will be grilling and serving hotdogs until they run out.

People can bring luminaria bags from their own Relay event or decorate new ones provided by the American Cancer Society.

The luminaria ceremony is a main portion of each relay event. At dusk, luminaria bags decorated to remember those who died from cancer are lit and remain lit throughout the event.

There will also be a scrolling display of the names of those who passed away assembled from information taken from relay events in southwest Michigan. People can add names by calling the American Cancer Society at (269) 349-8710.

“It will be a nice event with people from numerous Relays so they can all share their experiences,” Megyesi said. “We celebrate our survivors, remember those who passed away and we fight back.”

The Cass County COA was chosen, Megyesi said, because of its central location for involved communities.

Relay For Life is the American Cancer Society’s signature event, taking place across the nation and in countries around the globe. Friends, family, coworkers and neighbors come together to form a Relay team, which collects donations leading up to the event. On Relay day, team members take turns walking around the track during the entirety of the event — normally 24 hours — making sure that someone is on the track at all times.

Funds raised support the organization’s programs, which focus on research, education, advocacy and service.

Megyesi said donations will be accepted on behalf of the American Cancer Society and that people can specify to which Relay it will be donated.