As twilight gathered in the valley that holds Big Spring Park, local citizens gathered to share hope and remembrance at the annual Every Candle Has A Name ceremony.
Event chairperson Donna Hood, a 21-year breast cancer survivor, welcomed those who attended.
"I am pleased that you were able to attend tonight. My desire is that during the ceremony and when you return to your respective homes you will quietly remember those whose lives have been touched by cancer and you reflect on their courage and strength when battling this disease."
A pink t-shirt emblazoned with the name 'Helen' was on display on stage beside a bouquet of flowers and Hood brought the crowd's attention to the flowers. "The beautiful bouquet of white flowers is in memorial of Helen Hildebrand. The flowers are from her daughters. Laurie Delano ad Becky Armstrong. Helen was one of the founding members of our Bosom Buddies support group. Helen passed in January 2018. Helen had been the co-chair with me for the last several years for this event. We always told each other we will continue this event and if we are able to touch the life of even one person that has been diagnosed with breast cancer or any cancer we have been successful. You will see Helen's name on a luminaria bag tonight along with the other priceless ladies in our group that have received their angel wings."
Hood has worked with both Every Candle Has A Name and with the American Cancer Society Relay for Life for over twenty years.
Mary Jean Barker, also a breast cancer survivor, gave an invocation. Sherri and Nathan McAlister along with Sherri's mother and sister provided a special performance of 'I'll Fly Away'.
The central candle burned through the ceremony and Hood invited those present were invited to come forward to light a taper from it. "As we prepare to light our candles from the central candle of hope tonight, we can compare this is the luminaria ceremony at Relay For Life. We are lighting a candle to commemorate the people who have passed as a result of cancer and celebrate the people who have overcome the disease. As you light your candle, you may light in silence or share the name or names you are lighting the candle for."
Those who lit candles made a semi-circle and stood in silence as Tiffany Marion read the poem 'Every Candle Has A Name' by John W. Storey.
Each year, the ceremony is the local kickoff to Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October.
For more information about Bosom Buddies, contact Hood at 417-312-1027.