Light the Night transforms Bay High's bonfire tradition to beacon of hope

Bay High students and members of the community carry red torches from the stadium to the bonfire site. Photo by Connor Starowesky

For the third year, Bay High students took a school tradition long linked to homecoming and football, their Thursday night bonfire, and turned it into an event that brings the Bay Village community together to support cancer patients.

The students raised about $7,500 for the The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society on Thursday, Sept. 20, bringing their three-year total to more than $25,000 raised for the cause.

A number of Bay Village Schools students have been diagnosed with the blood cancers Hodgkin's Lymphoma or leukemia, and students at Bay High have used the bonfire to hold their own Light the Night event in support of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) and its funding of research to find blood cancer cures. It is a time to support their fellow students and let them know they mean their event's slogan, "No One Fights Alone."

"Our students wanted to participate in the Cleveland Light The Night Walk a few years ago to demonstrate support of our students fighting these cancers," said Bay High Principal Jason Martin. "But being rather late on a school night for a downtown event, we decided to have our own at Bay High."

It is an emotional occasion each year, as students line a path from Bay High Memorial Stadium with hundreds of donation-sponsored luminaria, ending at the bonfire site. Bay High student Jane Finley, who herself has battled Hodgkin's Lymphoma, is a leading speaker at the events as she describes the difficult journeys and courage of her fellow students and patients.

Following a brief ceremony honoring patients, supporters in the crowd carry electric torches with red shades to the presentation site, where students present their donation check to representatives of LLS.

Then the bonfire is lit, and the traditional homecoming celebration begins with the Bay High Marching Band playing music, and the Bay High Rockettes dancing in celebration, not just for homecoming, but for a community of support declaring "No One Fights Alone."

Karen Derby

Director of Communications for the Bay Village City School District

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Volume 10, Issue 19, Posted 9:57 AM, 10.02.2018