2013 Relay For Life

Luminarias glow to honor those affected by cancer

by Alex McRae

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Newnan Times-Herald File Photo

Participants make the first lap at a Coweta County Relay for Life, which returns April 26-27 for an overnight walking event at the Coweta County Fairgrounds.

One of the most treasured events at each Relay for Life event is the display of luminarias glowing in remembrance of cancer survivors, those lost to cancer and even those who just wish to support the largest fundraiser of the year for the American Cancer Society.

Newnan’s Zan Riede, who — along with her daughter Treena Smith — will chair the luminaria display at this year’s Newnan-Coweta Relay for Life, says the main goal of the luminaria display is to remember, but it’s also about raising funds to fight cancer.

“People love to sponsor luminarias for survivors or friends and family members,” Riede says. “But we want to emphasize that you can sponsor a luminaria in honor of anyone.”

Riede is pleasantly surprised at how the luminaria display has grown over the last four years.

The first display raised $3,000. Subsequent years saw collections of $6,000 and $13,000, and last year, more than $20,000 was raised. Riede hopes for even greater success this year.

“It’s not just a fundraising achievement,” she says. “It’s a wonderful sign of community support. It’s a really great event.”

Reide became involved with the local Relay for Life in 2006, after surviving a bout with cancer. “My son and daughter-in-law convinced me to come out and walk in the survivor’s lap,” she says. “The next year I had my own team, then I was on a committee, then chairman of luminarias, and that’s how it happened.”

Luminarias include torches and bags and sell for different amounts. The torches require a donation of $100. “Gold” bags containing luminary candles are available for a $25 contribution and “Silver” bags for $10.

Luminarias can even be purchased for pets.

Before this year’s relay steps off at the Coweta County Fairground on Pine Road Friday, luminarias will be placed around the track in alphabetical order and glow throughout the event. 

This year’s event will also feature the Memory Garden, a quiet place where Relay attendees can come and remember loved ones.

Riede wants to remind everyone that this year’s event starts an hour later than previous relays. Instead of 9 p.m. the actual team walking in the 2013 Relay for Life will begin at 10 p.m. The remembrance lap will be led by bagpiper Michael Scott of Newnan.

Riede expects another great turnout this year at the fairgrounds.

“When I’m out there it helps me remember what others are going through and it gives me a feeling of helping them,” Riede says. “It’s also a great way to raise funds for treatment and a cure. That’s really the most important thing.”

Registration forms for the April 26 Relay for Life fundraiser are available from all Relay team captains or by going to relayforlife.org and searching for the Coweta event.



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