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Relay for Life stages kickoff
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Great Bend volunteers pause for a moment of relflection as Linn Hogg reads a script for Barton Countys Relay for Life kickoff event Saturday at the Knights of Columbus Hall. - photo by JIM MISUNAS Great Bend Tribune

Barton County’s Relay for Life has undergone a makeover.
The 2015 Barton County Relay for Life will feature a Living Luminaria ceremony to highlight the annual event scheduled June 12, 2015 at the Jack Kilby Square.
Chair Kandi Wolf and co-chair Mariann Shook learned about the Living Luminaria ceremony during a recent gathering of Relay organizers in Topeka. They kicked off the local organizational meeting Saturday.
“You can do things to get people involved,” said Wolf, who has lost close family members to cancer. “It makes an impact.”
Luminaria leader Linn Hogg directed the ceremony Saturday at the Knights of Columbus Hall that will be re-enacted in June. The June ceremony will feature a survivor, a former caregiver, and a fight back speaker and their experiences with cancer.
Participants will be invited to decorate a basic white T-shirt with personal messages as their living luminaria. Participants will wear glow products to light up the ceremony.
“The Living Luminaria Ceremony is an opportunity for us to all come together and remember why we’re here at the American Cancer Society Relay For Life,” Hogg said. “I’d like to ask that you all please respect the meaning this ceremony carries by remaining silent. This is a time for us to grieve for those we’ve lost to cancer. lt’s a time for us to reflect on how the disease has touched each of us personally. And it’s a time for us to look inside ourselves with quiet reflection to find hope. No matter what our experience with cancer has been, we all share the hope that we will one day live in a world where our children, and their children, will never have to hear the words you have cancer.
“Our Circle of Hope is illuminated by Living Luminaria. Each one represents a treasured relationship. They represent people, each with a name and a story to tell. They are our mothers, our fathers, our sisters, our brothers, our sons, our daughters, our friends, and our loved ones. We love these people, we remember them, we celebrate them, and we fight back against this disease for them. As these luminaria glow through the night, they represent our shared vision for a cancer-free future,”
‘Thirty years ago, one man (Gordy Klatt) had a vision. His vision was not unlike the one many of you have tonight. His vision was of a world free from the pain and suffering of cancer — a world where no one would again hear the words ‘you have cancer’.”
Connie Lowe, Susan Strecker, Donella Brungardt and Karen Riggs represented Living Luminarias Saturday morning.
Hogg requested a moment of silence to remember why people participate in Relay for Life. After a moment of silence, each Living Luminaria participant named their honorary; or in memorial name as the Circle of Hope rotated.
Each Living Luminaria named a family member of someone they knew to indicate why they participate in Relay for Life.
Several volunteers contributed to the ceremony by reciting scripts that will be used in the ceremony.
Candi Vasquez said, “Why do we Relay? We Relay for the hope that we will come together as a community every year to celebrate the lives of all those who have faced cancer from the newly diagnosed to those reaching the five-year mark to those who are long-term survivors. We also Relay to celebrate caregivers — all those who have cared for loved ones or friends battling cancer. A caregiver’s impact is immeasurable.”
Kristine Brenner said, “I was a loving caregiver to my father Arthur Schartz who passed away 14 years and seven months ago. Why do we Relay? We Relay for the hope that we remember all those gone too soon. ln a world that is moving so fast, with life more complicated today than ever before; in a world that finds little use for ceremony; in a world that rarely pauses to reflect; here at Relay — our community gathers to remember. We will never, ever forget those we have lost.”
Regina Casper said, “I made the pledge to fight back for me, for you, and for my entire community. Why do we Relay?
“We Relay for the hope that our community will continue to muster the strength and determination to fight back against cancer. It may be by exercising, eating better, asking a loved one to get a cancer screening like a mammogram or colonoscopy, or by joining the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network to ensure the right cancer legislation is passed. But together we will make a pledge to fight back.”
Linn Hogg finished the ceremony by asking, “Why do we Relay? We Relay because by celebrating, remembering, and fighting back together, we find hope. Our hope is not just for us here tonight, it is for everyone across the planet. We want to finish the fight. We may not know how long this will take, but we see the advances the American Cancer Society helps bring with groundbreaking research. We see the lives that are being saved. And we join together in saying that there is no finish line until a cure is found for all.”
For information, call Kandi Wolf, 620-797-5651; or Mariann Shook, 620-791-7549.