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Relay for Life Wausau holds drive-through Luminaria ceremony

Published: Aug. 1, 2020 at 10:51 PM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) -50 different Relay for Life events took place Saturday throughout the Badger State, mostly done virtually.

But in Wausau, the most emotional, and touching period of any Relay for Life, the Luminaria ceremony, goes on with a drive through edition.

“Our Luminaria ceremony is an event where we remember our loved ones lost throughout their cancer journeys, and then we also honor our cancer survivors,” said Ali Aderholdt, a community development manager with the American Cancer Society.

And while most of the day’s events happened online, the pulling of the heart strings this ceremony causes, couldn’t be replicated behind a screen.

“We did want to make sure that it did happen this year,” Aderholdt said. “But we also wanted to abide by social distance and COVID guidelines.”

Over 250 bags were lit up to honor those lost, and those whose fight continues, like Cindy Guillen, who beat breast cancer six years ago.

“If you can come and drive through, take a look at the bags, each one might signify a person, a family, a cause,” Guillen said. “So, you can see all the different ways cancer has impacted people.”

“Luminaria just gives you all those feels,” said Jessica Lemke, also a community development manager for the American Cancer Society. “All those feels that you want to have to remember all your lost ones, and to fight for all those ones that are still battling.”

The lights, brighter through the night as the sun sets, representing hope and strength, in a year where we all need a little more than normal.

“Well I think as a survivor, it just shows the support,” Guillen said. “The lights, the glow, it just makes you feel like you’re surrounded by support.”

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