Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Foundation of Nevada commemorated the start of the organization’s 40th anniversary year in bold fashion on Sunday, Feb. 11 as Candlelighters children, local dignitaries, celebrities and first responders took to the world-famous Las Vegas Strip to honor local families’ fight against pediatric cancer (Pictured: James Kish and Abigail Coeto Juarez – Photo credit: Denise Truscello / WireImage).
In a nod to the Olympic year, Candlelighters’ children and their parents, paired with local celebrities and community first responders, passed a lit torch every quarter-mile along the length of Las Vegas Boulevard ending at the Downtown Container Park on Fremont Street where a final cauldron was lit honoring every family Candlelighters has touched over the past 40 years. The flame is symbolic of Candlelighters’ cancer journey.
Following the final ceremony, which was presided over by host Mark Shunock, Candlelighters families enjoyed a performance from local band, Lonesome Highway, as well as face painting and other children’s activities at Downtown Container Park.
Celebrity relay participants included: Nick Carter of the Backstreet Boys, two-time World Series champion Jose Canseco, two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback Jim McMahon, professional BMX dirt jumper Ricardo Laguna, Heather King and Agnes Wilczynski from Animal Planet’s “Tanked,” Clint and Kelly Holmes, comedian Martin Montana, magician David Goldrake, magician Murray SawChuck, Kevin Burke from Defending the Caveman, Santana Jackson from MJ Live, cast members from WOW, cast members from Chippendales, and The Bronx Wanderers. In addition, County Commissioners Marilyn Kirkpatrick and James Gibson helped to kick-off the ceremony at the Welcome to Las Vegas sign while local first responders from the Clark County Fire Department and Clark County Metro Police Department accompanied Candlelighters’ runners across the route. Families unable to make the event were able to watch the procession online during a Facebook Live event hosted by KLUC’s Chet Buchanan on Candlelighters’ Facebook page.
“A cancer diagnosis is devastating for families,” said Melissa Cipriano, Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Foundation of Nevada executive director. “For the past 40 years, Candlelighters has been there to provide emotional and financial support as well as quality of life programs taking a holistic approach to treating the whole family, through all stages of treatment and across the spectrum of services.
“We hope, one day, there will come a time when no one in our community faces this devastating disease; but, until that day comes, we are here to support our families in their fight. Our torch relay was designed to honor each of our Candlelighters’ cancer journeys, across the past 40 years, and we stand with them in solidarity.”
The Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Foundation of Nevada torch relay was just the start of what promises to be a big anniversary year for the nonprofit. With the aim of increasing both awareness for the organization’s cause as well as funds to support families in their fight against pediatric cancer, there are many ways to support Candlelighters’ mission. Annual events include the popular Super Hero 5K, Camp Independent Firefly and the annual ShineGOLD for Cancer campaign in September.
Candlelighters’ next large event will be the Evening of Hope Gala on Saturday, March 10 at Enclave Las Vegas. Celebrating all of Candlelighters’ children and their families, Evening of Hope includes a fun night of art, entertainment and the finest culinary delights from across the Las Vegas Valley. Tickets may be purchased by visiting CandlelightersNV.org.