Seeds of Hope and Remembrance | Brick Dedication Supports Garden’s Mission
Since its dedication in September 2003, the Awareness Garden has provided a peaceful place, surrounded by nature, where the public can come to reflect on the people in their lives who have been impacted by cancer.
Located at the Ed Page entrance to the Blackwater Creek Trail, the Awareness Garden was the dream of the late Lalla Hancock Sydnor. Sydnor, a Lynchburg resident, was an avid gardener and a fierce cancer advocate. As she bravely battled cancer, she envisioned what the garden could be and set about making it happen. Since her passing in 2003, there are now benches, fountains and pergolas where visitors can stop and reflect. At the center of the garden is Lalla’s Bell. Visitors are invited to ring the bell three times to commemorate milestones in their loved one’s journey through cancer.
Adding to the beauty of the space are immaculately kept gardens. Price Blair, chair of the Board of Directors for the Awareness Garden Foundation, says that the gardens are a labor of love from Dolly Horner, chair of the Landscape Committee. Horner has led a team of dedicated friends and volunteers since the beginning. The team works in the garden on a weekly basis, pruning, planting, raking, picking up sticks, tidying and cleaning—all the “dirty work” that keeps the garden pristine. Blair says, “There’s not a weed that escapes Dolly’s attention. She’s absolutely incredible.”
Kay Vaughan is another team leader at the garden, serving as chair of the Events Committee, and has also been involved in the Awareness Garden since the beginning. For years, Vaughan and her late husband J.P. organized the Pink Games at E.C. Glass High School. In the Pink Games, athletes wear sponsored jerseys and patches honoring lives of those who have been touched by cancer, and in the process also raise money for the garden’s scholarship endowment. Since the garden’s inception, the scholarship endowment has awarded over $100,000 to collegebound students whose lives have been affected by cancer. More importantly, these games connect young athletes to the local community and raise awareness that many people fight courageous battles off the playing fields.
Vaughan has also helped organize the biannual brick dedication ceremonies. Today, the garden’s pathways are made up of more than 11,000 bricks, each honoring those whose lives have been touched by cancer. Every brick purchased allows the Awareness Garden Foundation to fulfill their mission. Blair says the bricks are powerful remembrances for the community, including himself. His own father passed away from cancer in 2005. “For me personally, I don’t visit the cemetery to be with my dad. Instead, I visit his brick at the Awareness Garden,” he says.
The next dedication will be held October 17 at 2:30 pm. There are also a number of other naming opportunities, including fountain seating areas, stone benches, pergola columns, entrance plaques and boulders. More information is available at awarenessgarden.org.
Every season in the garden offers something different. Come hear leaves rustling across the bricks in the fall or see Christmas lights in winter. View new blossoms emerging in spring and birds playing in the fountain in summer. Come ring Lalla’s Bell. Finally, come trace your fingers across the words on a brick. Each brick tells a story—a story of a life well lived, a story of love. ✦