The Marco Island Marriott Resort presented its third Luminaria event on its lovely Sunset Terrace on Friday evening, April 8. Hor d’ouerves, wine and soft drinks were served to the guests who gathered before the presentation which combined a celebration for cancer survivors and memorials for those who have lost their battles with cancer.
The luminaries are sold by the Marriott associates in remembrance of loved ones who have died of cancer or in honor of survivors. This year each luminary contained not only a candle but a can of non-perishable food which was donated to the Harry Chapin Food Bank following the event.
A total of more than 800 luminaries were sold. The event is the kick-off fundraiser for the Marriott Resort Relay Team which will walk the beach in the Relay For Life on April 30th beginning at the Marriott Resort Crystal Shores. Kick-off is 3PM on the beach.
Rick Medwedeff, General Manager of the Marco Island Marriott Resort, welcomed the guests and thanked them for their support. He emphasized that the purpose of the evening leading up to Relay For Life was to raise funds for the American Cancer Society for research, advocacy and service. The motto of Relay For Life is: Celebrate, Remember, Fight Back.
Judy Mayo is Co-Captain for Spirit To Serve and is a 17 year employee of the Marriott. She and her co-captain, Cathy Nelson, and the entire luminary lighting committee worked tirelessly to raise funds for the luminary event. Their goal is to light up the entire island with luminaries. The Marriott property is just the start!
Judy described her experience with cancer which was followed immediately by a cancer diagnosis for her husband Joseph, “Coach” Mayo. She lauded her daughters, Angela and Melissa, for their constant support and encouragement. She described her husband’s courage in the face of a losing battle with cancer even to walking, with his daughters’ help, his final Relay For Life in the last months of his life in 2008.
Judy spoke about Katie Consolo, who lost her heroic struggle in 2010 and is remembered by her family and friends as a woman of grace and courage. They wore T-shirts with her picture on them encouraging our continued support to conquer this disease which takes such valuable, loved and loving women, men and children away from their families and friends. Vanessa Warner, 2011 Relay For Life Vice Chair presented a Caregiver Award to Gene Consolo for his dedication to his wife during her long battle with cancer and his steadfastness in the continued fight against the disease.
Beth Gerhardstein, owner of Video Showcase, whose mother died of cancer about a year and a half ago, attended the evening at the invitation of Marva Sutt, an eight year supporter of Relay For Life. Beth’s mother was an 18 year employee of the Marco Island Marriott Resort. Marva is bringing two more friends to her team this year. She just got out of the hospital after a bout with pancreatitis. Marva declared.”I wouldn’t miss this event for the world!”
Raul Medina, Logistics Chairman of the American Cancer Society, organized all the required permits, the stage and lighting for Relay For Life and he worked closely with Hope Goldberg of Crystal Shores, Marriott Interval Ownership, where Relay For Life will be held on April 30.
Members of the committee lighted the luminary candles that spelled out HOPE one at time just as the sun began its descent. Savannah read a moving poem Cancer Is So Limited and lit one candle to REMEMBER the meaning of special events marked by candle lighting in our lives. Chris lit the candle for H for “hope, the light at the end of the tunnel.” Susan Lit the O candle for “one day at a time.” Mary lit the P candle “progress is truly obtainable.” Steve lit the E candle which centers the word together. “we all stand together.”
Cathy asked the guests to stand and raise our candles when we heard the special reason for our presence, as a survivor, for our parents, spouse, sibling, child or other family member or loved one who had fought cancer or was still in the battle. As the sun set, luminaries were lighted spelling out CURE as every person present raised a lighted candle in response to our special prayer. We truly were a gathering standing together.
Jerry Gibson, Chair of the Marco Island City Council, presented a Proclamation to the American Cancer Society recognizing the contribution of Relay For Life and proclaiming April 8, 2011 Relay For Life Day. Dr. Loan Lam, Chairman for Relay For Life thanked the Marriott, the committee and guests for all they do to support cancer research. Funds raised through Relay will provide the American Cancer Society the tools to fight cancer and help to bring about its demise.