Luminarias memorializing those lost to cancer encircled loved ones on South Ann Arbor Street Thursday night
The ceremony completed this year's Saline Relay for Life, which began May 14 at Henne Field. Officials postponed the luminaria ceremony that day because of the weather.
Volunteers placed hundreds of luminarias in a circle around the 100 block of South Ann Arbor Street during the Summer Music Series concert. After the sun set and the concert completed, volunteers illuminated the decorated paper bags.
A few dozen people stayed after the concert and walked along the circle of glowing paper lanterns to remember to those who died. It was an emotional and solemn conclusion to what had been a festive evening in downtown Saline.
This year 140 people on 23 Relay for Life teams raised $62,598 for the American Cancer Society. Jen Warner announced that Saline was in the nation's top 10 when it come's to per-capita donations. She said the Relay for Life gives people hope in the fight against cancer.
"That gives us reason to be hopeful that one day we'll have a cure," Warner said. "We've heard from doctors who tell us they're making important breakthroughs in cancer research."
Warner said the American Cancer Society plays an important role in cancer research.
David Rhoads, Saline's Mayor Pro-Tem, spoke at the gathering. Rhoads lost his wife, Leslee Niethammer, to cancer this year. Niethammer was director of the Saline District Library and volunteered in many Saline organizations. Doctors diagnosed her breast cancer June 1, 2015.
"There has been a lot of progress made in terms of treating cancer. But unfortunately it did not work out for her and she died on March 11," Rhoads said, voice trembling. "Probably a lot of you have been touched by this terrible disease. It's pervasive. Cancer doesn't care who it touches, from children to grandparents and everyone in between."
Rhoads said he, too, is hopeful that we will win the fight against cancer.
"My hope is that through events like these we will raise enough funds so that researchers can come up with a way to stop this terrible disease," Rhoads said.
Rhoads called for a moment of silence to honor the people the people we've lost and to remember those still battling cancer.