Lighting up the night in Paso: Honoring those touched by cancer

A father, a grandfather, a sister, an aunt and a friend; all touched by cancer. They are among the people to be honored with thousands of white lights to be unveiled Friday in Paso Robles’ Downtown City Park.

The Cancer Support Community and the Paso Robles Main Street Association are organizing the effort to ramp up the downtown park’s holiday glow.

But for event founder Scot Burns, it’s also a fundraiser where everyday people can pitch in to improve their community.

 “Your family can go down to the park and look up and know they are a part of that,” Burns said.

The lights will go on every evening this season through Dec. 31, similar to previous years. But this time, instead of a few strands here and there, Burns wanted light to radiate throughout the park.

He helped create the Light Up the Night campaign by taking a cue from his late father, Richard Burns. The beloved father and grandfather died of bone and blood cancer in December 2010.

“My father, he was just a very generous person,” Scot Burns said. “He was a doer. He made things happen. And he really liked to improve things … and that’s really been instilled in me.”

So far, the campaign has about a dozen major donors and more than 100 individual supporters with more being sought.

Among them is Burns’ 12-year-old daughter, Bijou. She’s running her own mini-campaign to fill one park tree with donations.

She said helping has been a way she can “express the passion I have for those around me.”

She also likes the way the event is bringing people together.

“It means we can help people who have cancer ease the pain and suffering,” she said.

Janet Marcotte of Paso Robles is honoring her sister, Kathy Webster, who died in October from bone cancer that metastasized from breast cancer.

She hopes that when people gaze at the lights, they’ll see them shine in a new way.

“That every holiday, it will remind everyone of those that lost their fight to this terrible disease and those that are still fighting and those that beat it,” Marcotte said.

Templeton resident Eric Osborn is honoring his aunt, Shirley Osborn, who died in September just two months after she was diagnosed with brain cancer.

“It was a special time spent with her before she passed because she was so full of life,” he said.

Templeton resident David Bolivar is supporting his colleague Berry Foran, a local general surgeon with colon cancer who he says is “one of the greatest human beings you’ll ever meet.” He hopes the lights raise awareness about the cancer support group, formerly known as The Wellness Community, and “how cancer affects all of us — even one of our own.”

For more information and to donate:

www.LightUpPasoRobles.com and

Bijou Burns' fundraising site: www.Fundly.com/mighty-fire