Relay hopes to set new record

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Gwinnett already has the most prolific Relay for Life program on Earth -- now it's shooting for a Guinness world record.

David Greer is the founder of The Heroes Project, the group that wrote the song that will be played during this year's luminaria ceremony, a candle-lit time of reflection on those who have lost their battle to cancer.

This year's song for the service, Greer said, gave birth to this aspiration: to set the world record for most candles lit in a single venue.

"It really all stemmed from The Heroes Project that we do, the song that we wrote was called 'We Light A Candle,' which was inspired by being at candelight vigils and seeing all the emotion," Greer said.

"When you see how much that impacts cancer survivors and their family, we thought, how cool would that be on a huge scale?"

The current Guinness Book world record is "somewhere around 1,100," Greer said. Judging by past showings at the Life Luminaria Ceremony, taking the record should be a breeze -- Greer said they are expecting 8,000 to 10,000 participants this year.

Yes, the record pursuit is fun, and a good way to draw as many people as possible to the event, said Randy Redner, the American Cancer Society's executive director in Gwinnett.

But, like every year, it's about remembering those who have lost their lives to cancer.

"I think what they wanted to see in their mind's eye is how do we engage or involve all 15,000 people in the fairgrounds," Redner said. "And it's going to be an extremely moving time."

"Relay for Life is an event built around cancer survivors, and celebrating those that are winning their battle against cancer," he added. "But through our luminary ceremony, there's also a chance to remember."

This year's all-night Relay for Life activities begin May 7 at the Gwinnett County Fairgrounds. That leaves just 12 days to join a team, make a team or make a donation.

As of Friday night, Gwinnett Relay for Life had raised more than $660,000 with more than 7,000 registered participants. But when it comes to cancer research, there's always the need for more.

"Right now there are just going to be a bunch of relay fundraising events in the community, and we're look for the support of those around us," Redner said. "And of course, we still want people to join a team, whether it's a church team, a team at your business you didn't know about, anything. Or just hop online and make a donation."

Those interested can go to www.relayforlife.org/gwinnett to join a team, create a team or donate.

As far as the luminaria ceremony goes, it will be one of many events that Greer hopes will echo in the memories of all those present, world record or not.

"I think everybody has a song that when they hear it, it takes them back to a moment in time," Greer said.

"If we could kind of capture the emotion of that night and that moment in that song long after that moment was gone, we can keep it alive through song all year long, and all over the world."