From the excitement and energy of the kick-off ceremonies to the quiet and peaceful luminaria lighting, Malverne's second annual Relay for Life wasn't just about raising money.
Granted, a whole lot of money was raised - $32,868 to be exact as of press time - for the American Cancer Society, but the May 4 event was about so much more.
It was a celebration of the loved ones who lost their lives to cancer and those still fighting the battle. Their names and images were sketched on small, white bags with candles inside that were placed around s track, which later that night, lit up the darkness.
It was an opportunity to thank all the caregivers and a chance to be inspired by those who have battled the disease and survived. Both these groups were invited to a feast earlier in the evening and then took the first steps around the track to kick off the walk.
It was a day to be inspired by the power of the individual and the hope that future generations will find a cure. In this case, it was the youngest individuals, the elementary students of and who raised the most money, $9,003 and $5,836 respectively, nearly half of the event's total. (As they walked around the track, they sang a sweet rendition of Michael Jackson's "Heal the World.")
It was a time to unite the neighboring communities, to recognize their talents, as demonstrated by the entertainers who performed throughout the night, from the students to the Malverne High School Select Choir and Marching Band; To acknowledge the hard-working volunteers, including Co-Chairs Michael Taylor and "Wild Bill" Holzapfel, and Paul Gruol, director of special events for ACS, and others who made the event a reality.
As they walked, the hundreds of participants reflected on the pain they share because of cancer's impact on each of their lives, comforted one another but resolved to keep the memories of their loved ones burning bright and to never stop fighting.
If a plane flew over Malverne that night, they might have been able to see the words "Hope" and "Love" - formed by luminaria bags lit with candles - glowing from the high school bleachers, two words that would perfectly sum up what Malverne's second annual Relay for Life was really all about.
Click through the gallery above to see photos from the event and check back for video highlights. If you would still like to make a donation to the Malverne Relay for Life, click here.