Quad Citians participate in Luminaria Day

People buy and decorate bags leading up to Relay for Life to honor loved ones

ROCK ISLAND, Ill. - Luminaria day was held in the Quad Cities Tuesday.

It's an event leading up to the local Relay for Life event.

People can buy and decorate bags to honor a loved one who's been touched by cancer.

They're lit up during a special ceremony later this month.

"It represents hope. Hope of a loved one, representing a life that has been touched by us," said Relay for Life Senior Community Manager Stacey Dutton.

Most everyone knows someone who's been affected by cancer.

White bags are $10 and gold ones are $25.

Dutton says a little can go a long way.

"A $10 donation can provide a patient with a ride through our Road to Recovery program. So, that program has volunteers that will pick up the patient, take them to treatment and then return them home safely. They may be too sick to drive themselves."

People get really creative with these luminaria bags, decorating them and personalizing them to either remember a loved one they lost to cancer or honor a survivor.

"So, we will read every single name that has a bag, and we have a beautiful ceremony to do just that," said Dutton.

"Hearing the names, hearing everybody's name that is one the luminaria bag, that's very touching too, You realize you're part of this huge circle. So, just hearing everybody's names , seeing all the bags lit, the sun setting and it becoming darker. It's just gorgeous, and it's so emotional," said Cancer Survivor Betty Jo Versluis.

Versluis has been volunteering with Relay for Life for 10 years.

"I felt that God kept me here for a reason, so I needed to give back and a family member had took me to Relay for Life like literally three days out of having cancer surgery and I've been here ever since," said Versluis.

She says the nighttime ceremony shows solidarity in the fight against cancer.

"Maybe you don't know, how or what to say to a cancer survivor, come and put their name on a bag and just let them know that you care."

Relay for Life is coming up on May 13th.

It's from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Bettendorf High School.

You can still buy a luminaria bag at the Discovery Shop in Bettendorf.

Click here for more information.

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