A small, simple and stunning display of luminarias in downtown Fernandina Beach Wednesday honored lives touched by cancer.
Candles tucked into dozens of small bags lined the pocket park on the 200 block of Centre St. to remember, support, or recognize a friend or family member who had died, fought, or overcome the disease. The American Cancer Society organized the evening event which started after the sundown.
Community Development Manager Dana Wolf, who works in the group’s Jacksonville office, said the luminaria display was a ‘kick-off’ event for the annual ‘Relay for Life’ to be held Oct. 6 at Fernandina Beach High School.
“It is months away, but we’re raising awareness now to celebrate the lives we lost to cancer, support those with cancer, and help people with cancer who are still right here. We want them to know they’re not alone.”
According to Ms. Wolf, nearly one of every three people will receive a cancer diagnosis in their lifetime. She said the ACS has an important message for them.
“We want anybody who hears the words: ‘You have cancer’ – to know that the society is here for you,” she said.
Ms. Wolf said the organization is building a ‘Hope Lodge’ at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville to help people who need accommodates while a family member or friend receives treatment at the facility. Groundbreaking, she said, started last fall and completion is expected later this year.
The luminaria event was held as a fundraiser and businesses donated merchandise or a portion of their receipts. The financial donors include Amelia Island Coffee, Amelia Angler Outfitters, and Villa Villekulla Neighborhood Toy Store, said Ms. Wolf. Look for businesses with purple ribbons and signs, she said.
“This was the first event so we didn’t have a goal in mind as far as how much money to raise but we’re grateful to have support,” said Ms. Wolf.
Lead local organizer Joe LaBar, who works as the banquet manager at the Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort, said his father died of prostate cancer when he was 10 years old.
“It made such a big impact and it means a lot to me to help organize events and celebrate survivors,” he said.
Mr. LaBar echoed the words of Ms. Wolf: “We want everyone who hears the words, ‘You’ve got cancer,’ to know that they are not alone.”
The 24-hour helpline for the American Cancer Society is 800-227-2345.