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Luminaria candles to honor cancer victims

MARYSVILLE Luminaria are bags filled with sand, into which are then placed votive candles, said Tami Odell, operator of the Just Paint It Ceramics Studio in Marysville.

In the case of the luminaria being sold for this year's Northern Snohomish County Relay for Life, the name of a cancer victim can be added to the outside of the bag.

One of the largest fundraisers of the year for the American Cancer Society, the local Relay is planned for June 7-8 on the athletic field at Marysville-Pilchuck High School.

A cancer survivor, Odell said all the luminaria created locally between now and then will be used during a memorial ceremony to be held the first night of the event.

The candles will be lit during about a half-hour service, Odell added. Luminaria also will sit in the stands of the field, spelling out the word "Hope."

"It's beautiful," Odell said. "It's a very moving ceremony."

Begun 20 years ago by a Tacoma physician, the Relay for Life has grown to be what the Cancer Society touts as its best known fundraising event, held in 4,200 communities and having raised more than $1 billion toward cancer research, education and patient services.

"Relay for Life is about inspiring hope, celebrating survivors, remembering those we lost and finding a cure for cancer," said Tracy Anderson, one of the co-chair's of the local Relay committee and, like Odell, a cancer survivor.

Described as a family oriented event, the local Relay for Life asks teams of participants to walk, run or even stroll in shifts around the high school running track for 24 hours. Participants usually camp out around the track, enjoying food and entertainment when not taking their turn on the field.

Not incidentally, in terms of bringing in dollars for cancer research, the Northern Snohomish Relay more than holds its own.

During last year's Relay, also held at Marysville-Pilchuck, 40 teams raised $154,000, said Dawn Martin, the other chair of the local program and yet another cancer survivor. In fact, statewide, the Marysville Relay trailed only the Tacoma Relay in dollars raised.

For this year, Martin hopes to increase the take to at least $164,000.

Luminaria for the Relay are available now at Odell's shop, 1418 Fifth St., Marysville, behind Bank of America. The luminaria are to be had for whatever donation is offered. The bags can be decorated and returned to the store by the donor, or left at Odell's store for decoration by volunteers.

For information on luminaria, call Odell at 360-653-6250. To register or for more information on the Relay for Life, call Becca Gheen at 425-322-1123 or go to www.nsnocorelay.org.

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