Aroostook County  -  The downtowns of two central Aroostook County communities shine a bit brighter heading into the holiday season with the official lighting of the Lights of Life tree on Main Street in Presque Isle and the community tree in Fort Fairfield this past weekend. 

TAMC

Brief but touching ceremonies in memory of Fort Fairfield businessman Fred “JR” McGillan, Jr., who lost his battle with cancer in July, marked the visible launch of an annual program to support cancer care in The County.

TAMC

The Lights of Life program is a collaborative effort of TAMC and Clukey’s Auto Supply of Caribou, Presque Isle and Houlton.  McGillan Inc., of Fort Fairfield, joined in the partnership this year as the project is dedicated in memory of JR McGillan. Funds raised annually support treatment for patients of TAMC’s Aroostook Cancer Care, the only comprehensive cancer treatment center in northern Maine.

Donations to the 2014 Lights of Life campaign will go toward the purchase of a new linear accelerator, which provides radiation therapy to help shrink cancerous tumors.  It is the only such piece of equipment in northern Maine, and TAMC is in need of replacing an aging unit currently on-site at the A.R. Gould Memorial Hospital on Academy Street in Presque Isle.

In Presque Isle, a 25-foot tree in front of Clukey’s Auto Supply was lit as part of the Star City’s annual Holiday Light Parade on the evening of Saturday, December 6.  A piece of earthmoving equipment owned by McGillan, Inc. and operated by JR McGillan’s oldest son Shane was the lead entry in the parade.

As the decorated McGillan equipment reached the tree, 22-year-old Shane raised the bucket on the front until it reached its highest point, signaling the lights on tree to turn on.  Among those joining in the lighting ceremony were JR McGillan’s wife Janet and the couple’s two other children, 19-year-old daughter Kellyn and 11-year-old son Jared.   Warmer temperatures than in recent years, hovering near the freezing point, and a gently falling snow served as the perfect backdrop for the lighting event.

Much colder temperatures, nearing the zero mark (below zero with the wind chill factored in), did not cool the warm spirit the following evening when the memory of JR McGillan was celebrated in his hometown of Fort Fairfield at the annual tree lighting ceremony hosted by the Town of Fort Fairfield, the Fort Fairfield Chamber of Commerce and the Fort Fairfield Housing Authority in the community gazebo on Main Street.

In the moments before the tree was illuminated, Dr. Jay Reynolds, TAMC chief medical officer and chief clinical officer, spoke on behalf of the Lights of Life Program about his good friend JR McGillan.

“It is on cold nights like this that many of us who live in this community would call upon our friend JR to help us get the water running or heat turned on.  When we called on him, we could always count on him to come out.  He would come out in temperatures like this, at hours later than this, never complain, and make things right,” said Reynolds.  “Well tonight, JR, you can rest knowing that your community has come out for you.”

Following the touching comments, the community tree was officially lit.  In honor of JR McGillan additional red lights – to match the signature color of the prominent Fort Fairfield contractor – were added on and around the gazebo in which the tree sits.

2014 marks the seventh year the Lights of Life event raises awareness and support for area cancer services.  It also marks the second year TAMC partners with Clukey’s Auto Supply, bringing the project beyond Presque Isle to Caribou and Houlton.  With the addition this year of McGillan Inc., the Fort Fairfield community is also engaged.

Through Lights of Life, individuals can purchase lights to remember those who have lost their lives to cancer or honor survivors, family and friends of survivors, caregivers and others.  Lights may be purchased anytime now through December 31 in person at a Clukey’s Auto Supply location in Presque Isle, Caribou or Houlton, at McGillan’s in Fort Fairfield, or on-line at www.tamc.org.  The names of those being honored or remembered will be displayed at Clukey’s Auto Supply locations, at Acadia Medical Supply in Fort Fairfield and on the TAMC website.

Lights are being sold for:  white, $10; red, $25; yellow, $50; green, $75; blue, $100; and orange, $150.  Donations will benefit TAMC’s Aroostook Cancer Care.  Proceeds from this year’s efforts will support the purchase and installation of a new linear accelerator at TAMC, which will provide life-saving radiation therapy to cancer patients across The County.

For more information on Lights of Life or to purchase a light, visit www.tamc.org or contact TAMC Communications and Development office at (207) 768-4858.