Thursday, October 28, 2021

Relay For Life: A Community Celebrates and Remembers



By Coastal Breeze News Staff

The theme may have been a multi-state “Relay Road Trip,” but it was all Marco Island at Mackle Park as the community came out to support the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life.

All day on Saturday, April 9, enthusiastic Relay teams manned decorated tents, played games, and sold various culinary treats and goods. The day was filled with walkers on the track, children playing in the bounce house, and singing, dancing and other local talent on display. In the park’s community room, 130 cancer survivors and caregivers enjoyed a lunch generously donated by local restaurants. Most moving was the twilight Luminaria Ceremony, where survivors and loved ones battling the disease

Photos by Val Simon & Jessica Hernstadt

Photos by Val Simon & Jessica Hernstadt

are honored, and the many we have lost, remembered.

According to Sue Olszak, Marco’s Relay For Life community manager, funds raised so far total $250,000, and counting. Sue attributes the success to the dedication of the many Marco Islanders who took part, saying, “Relay For Life would not be a success without our committee, volunteers, sponsors and our community who all come together to support the American Cancer Society.” Event Chair Cathy Nelson also credited a team effort in the success, saying “Our committee is the back bone of this event, and what an event it was!”

A6-CBN-04-15-16-3Last year, Marco’s Relay For Life ranked #3 for fundraising in



the State of Florida. And although the final numbers are not yet in, Cathy is hopeful this year will be even better, saying, “I am confident that we will come in very strong – hopefully taking over that #2 ranking in the state!”

Fundraising events continue throughout May. For more information, contact the Marco Island office of the American Cancer Society at 239-642-8800.



An empty table and chair sat on the track, making people wonder why it was there. A white tablecloth, a rose in a vase and other items held special meaning which was revealed at the Luminaria Ceremony’s conclusion.

The table is set for one: some of



our loved ones are missing from this gathering. 

The chair is empty; many who fought cancer are no longer with us.

The table is small, symbolizing the frailty of a single patient, sometimes alone in their fight.

The white tablecloth represents doctors, nurses and researchers who help in the battle.

The single rose signifies the patients’ will to fight, and the enduring love of families and friends.

The pink ribbon represents the ribbons worn by millions who support the search for a cure.

A slice of lemon reminds us of cancer’s bitter battle.

The salt reflects the countless tears shed by the patient, family members and friends.

The glass is inverted in memory of those who are not here to join us.

The candle represents the light of hope.

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