Opening Night for the Dunedin Blue Jays generally draws a large crowd, but people who attend tonight's baseball game against the Clearwater Threshers could break a world record.
Miles for Hope, a nonprofit organization that raises money for brain cancer research, is sponsoring a candlelight vigil immediately after the game in hopes of breaking a Guinness World Record for the most simultaneously lit candles at a single venue.
The "Together in Hope" vigil is the brainchild of Miles for Hope founders Bob and Barb Gibbs.
"My wife actually came up with the idea," said Bob Gibbs, 39. "We thought it was an innovative, cost-effective idea that could help draw attention to the lack of funding for brain cancer research."
The current world record is 1,000 and was achieved by 250 supporters of Krishnagiri Shakti Peetadhipati Sri Sri Sri Vasanth Gurudevji (India) on behalf of Sri Krishnagiri Parshwa Padmavathi Charitable Trust at Leicester Tigers RFU Stadium in Leicester, United Kingdom, on Oct. 5, 2008.
The Gibbses approached the Dunedin Blue Jays in December with the idea of combining the vigil with a baseball game and found the organization to be receptive.
"Dunedin and the local community have been very good to us over the years, so we try give back as much as possible," said Kevin Schildt, account executive with the Dunedin Blue Jays. "When we heard about their idea of setting a Guinness World Record, we wanted to do all we could to help."
Bob Gibbs is waging his own battle with brain cancer. Diagnosed in 2004 with a lemon-sized tumor in his brain, he has undergone surgery and chemotherapy and is receiving an experimental vaccine created from his tumor in hopes of surviving the deadly disease.
His own experiences have made him painfully aware of the lack of funding for brain cancer research and clinical trials, something he hopes to change by raising both money and awareness through Miles for Hope.
"I'm not going to rest until we raise money for this research," said Gibbs, who lives with his wife and their four sons in Clearwater.
Tickets to the event cost $8, of which $5 goes to support Miles for Hope. Organizers said they intentionally kept the ticket price low in recognition of the tough economic times. There will also be $1 beers and $1 soda available throughout the evening.
A fireworks show will follow the game and vigil.