Friday Night Lights provides support for children with cancer


Benny He

Football players high-fived the children at halftime.

Ashley Yen, Staff Writer

As the St. John’s football players jogged down the ramp towards the locker room at halftime, they gave high-fives to children with cancer and their families who attended the game against Episcopal. This was a part of Friday Night Lights, an event hosted by St. John’s on Oct. 5 for Candlelighter families.

For over 25 years, Candlelighters, a non-profit organization, has provided emotional, educational and practical support to families of children with cancer. At Friday Night Lights, Candlelighter families ate dinner, played games and took pictures with the football players and cheerleaders before the game.

According to Kelsey Tarpinian, the Development Director of Candlelighters, Friday Night Lights serves as an opportunity for children with cancer to relax and participate in regular activities.

“Many of the kids who are on cancer treatment don’t have the traditional school experience, so football games aren’t always a normal thing that they get to go to,” Tarpinian said.

In addition to Friday Night Lights, St. John’s also hosts the Kid Zone at Candlelighter’s fundraising walk — which takes place annually in early September — and the Fall Family Festival on Oct. 28.

Benny He
The children also had the opportunity to meet the St. John’s cheerleaders.

Senior Elizabeth McNeely has volunteered at Candlelighter events for four years and enjoys watching the children’s reactions at the events.

“Seeing the smiles on not only the kids’ faces, but also their parents’ faces, is really rewarding,” McNeely said.

Although Candlelighters supports children with cancer, their events are family-oriented.

“When one child has been affected by cancer, the whole family is affected by cancer,” Bahr said. “Anything we can do to lessen the issue of dealing with cancer is our goal.”

Candlelighters not only aims to help families emotionally, but also financially and educationally. The organization provides a parent consultant program and parking assistance, ensuring that no family has to face the challenges of childhood cancer alone.

“These kids face cancer with such hope and resilience and faith that everything is going to be okay,” Tarpinian said. “They really take every experience to heart. Everything that they’re given means so much to them because they know the seriousness of what they have faced and will hopefully overcome.”