St. James Parish Relay for Life takes place Saturday

Published 12:06 am Wednesday, May 13, 2015

LUTCHER — The St. James Parish community is set to come together in support of those battling cancer at the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life event.

Hundreds will gather from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday at Lutcher Park to raise money and awareness for those fighting cancer.

Numerous relay teams held fundraisers all year long in preparation for the event. At the end of the year, St. James Parish is hoping to have raised $180,000 to benefit cancer research, fund clinical trials, fund 24-hour cancer support via phone and provide housing for patients and their families battling the disease.

Over 10,000 constituents received over 20,000 services statewide in 2014 because of the American Cancer Society’s fundraising efforts.

Sarah Gibson, community manager for the St. James event, feels a special connection to the cause as she has experienced the impact of cancer through the loss of close family and friends.

“I have always participated in Relay for Life events, but this is my first time working with St. James Parish, and I can tell they are very welcoming and committed to the cause,” Gibson said.

The event has been part of the St. James community for over 15 years, which is a testament to community members’ determination to fight this disease.

Due to the parish’s Relay for Life event, 39 patients received more than 126 services in St. James Parish in 2014.

“The community understands that we have come so far in the fight against cancer, but they also know we have a long way to go,” Gibson said.

Admission to Relay for Life is free, but food and other items will be sold in support of the American Cancer Society.

There will also be a silent auction, games for families, contests and ceremonies taking place.

Among the ceremonies planned are the sky lantern ceremony and the survivors ceremony.

Perhaps the most meaningful moment at the event is the luminaria ceremony to honor those who have been impacted by cancer.

Each luminaria is personalized with a name, photo and message in honor of someone that has battled cancer or who has lost their life to the struggle.

“Moving is the best way to describe it,” Gibson said. “It reminds us of why we do what we do.”

Gibson also notes there will be a special area at the event designated for cancer survivors, who will be rewarded for their fight and treated specially.

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— By Kristen Higdon