Every flame honors a name for Relay For Life luminaries
PERSONAL INTEREST n Diane Griffin this year's Relay for Life luminary chairwoman, has a personal interest in the American Cancer Society's fund-raiser and education effort. Her mother is a cancer survivor and she lost her sister, Robin West, to cancer. In this photo, from left, seated, Griffin's niece, Jennifer West; Traci Thoms; Griffin, Dennis Warren; and Griffin's mother, Edna Moore, help plan activities during a Relay for Life meeting. Photo by Carisa McCain/The Meridian Star
By Steve Gillespie/The Meridian Star
May 21, 2001
Lauderdale County Relay For Life luminary chairperson Diane Griffin is helping keep people alive, not just in a physical sense, but in the hearts and minds of all who love them.
Candles lit in recognition of cancer survivors, people who are currently battling the disease and people who lost the fight will illuminate the track at Meridian High School's Ray Stadium during Relay For Life on Friday, June 8.
Griffin has placed her own personal luminaries during the ceremony over the years in honor of her own family's struggle against cancer.
Griffin's first name is Vivian. She is named for her grandmother, Vivian Coker Brown, who died of cancer in the 1930s at the age of 29. Griffin's sister, Robin West, died of breast cancer in 1988 after a 10-year battle. And, Griffin's mother, Edna Moore, is a survivor of ovarian cancer.
Griffin and Moore work side-by-side, not only in a volunteer capacity with Relay For Life, but also at their Super Mart Package Store on Poplar Springs Drive. The front door and inside of the store are peppered with Relay For Life materials.
Griffin has served as luminary chairperson for five years. In that time she has seen names move from the list of those honored in the ceremony for their fight against cancer to the list of those memorialized.
She said her work has become a family affair. Not only does her mother help her, but her sister's twins, Jennifer and Jeremy, who were 10 when their mother died, other nieces and nephews, in-laws and Griffin's 11-year-old son assist her as well.
Relay For Life is a relay in itself. Griffin serves as secretary of the American Cancer Society Board and though the Relay For Life fund-raiser ends in June, she said planning for next year will begin in August.
Each Relay For Life luminary is placed in a white paper bag that displays the name of the person who is honored in black magic marker. They are simple, elegant tokens of something eternal. Each one is done for a $10 donation. Griffin's task includes getting forms designed and printed for people to fill out and making sure there are plenty of bags and candles for the ceremony.
Griffin is responsible for getting the luminary bags made up as well. Just this week, while making bags for the ceremony, Griffin said her mother came across a luminary form with Robin's name on it.
She said the hours and the days are long, but worth every minute because of the rewarding feeling she has for her volunteer work. Moore said she looks forward to Relay For Life every year.
Through her work with the American Cancer Society Griffin is also involved with making people aware of the different forms of cancer and preventative measures that can be taken. She said she couldn't work with a better group of people than the Relay For Life committee and the American Cancer Society Board because they are all working for the same mission research and to hopefully find a cure.
Griffin is so active today because of the help she saw her sister receive from the community during her fight with cancer. Neighbors brought meals, visited and took her children to the movies.
The deadline to purchase luminaries is June 7. Griffin said this year's response has been slow so far. To find out how to acquire a form, contact Griffin at 681-4889.
Steve Gillespie is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call him at 693-1551, ext. 3233, or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.