This Saturday, hundreds of messages of hope and love will be reflected on to Lake McKinley as luminarias line its shore during Creston’s Relay for Life event. The annual event is held not only to remember those who have lose their battle to cancer, but to serve as a reminder that cancer, in all its forms, still affects thousands of individuals, but there is support and hope.
“I think the reason so many of us do this year after year is we want to help with that fight to end cancer, but more importantly, just locally for our community, we want our cancer survivors and those that we lost to be remembered,” said Dawn Loudon, Creston Relay for Life co-chair. “Cancer is such a big fight and bringing it down to the community level with that support is really important to us.”
Relay for Life is an American Cancer Society event. Loudon said the money raised locally will help carry out the mission of the ACS by helping fund cancer research, patient care and support.
“They use that money for research, for outreach, guidance, whether that’s for assistance getting to their actual chemo, places to stay, helping with medicine used to treat cancer and hopefully one day end cancer,” she said.
Loudon said, like many organizations have experienced, COVID has impacted the ACS financially and will not be providing any support this year. Therefore Creston’s event is completely funded by local business sponsors and volunteers who have held fundraisers throughout the year.
“We’ve always had, in the past, American Cancer Society has provided a lot of the support and materials and advertising,” said Loudon. “So we’re looking at some different options for next year. We still want to have the event and the heart of the event is honoring our survivors and those we’ve lost, but we’re looking at different ways to keep the money local and support our community’s cancer patients.”
Relay for Life
This year’s event will be much like last year at Lake McKinley.
“With COVID and everything, we had to take into consideration the health and wellness of all of our cancer survivors and those going through cancer,” Loudon said.
Loudon described this year’s event as a “touchless event” with a drive thru luminary ceremony.
Luminarias are candles placed in decorated bags that bear the names of survivors and those who have lost their life to cancer. Individuals wishing to dedicate a luminaria in memory or in honor of someone can pick up a bag 5 to 7 p.m. Friday in the parking lot of PCSB Bank on Highway 34.
“You can pick up bags, you can request we decorate bags for you, or you can drop off any that you’ve decorated,” Loudon said.
The suggested donation for a luminaria is $5, which includes a bag and LED battery-operated candle. Luminarias will also be available at the start of the event, 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
Loudon said anyone can drive through during the daylight hours after setup or make use of the walking trail to read the messages on each bag.
The lighted ceremony is 9 to 9:30 p.m. and will be broadcasted on KSIB Radio.
“We have different readings, poems, music for the evening that holds a special meaning to our cancer survivors, and we kind of walk you through what the whole event is about,” Loudon said.
For more information, visit Relay for Life of Southwest Iowa’s Facebook page.