If you live in an apartment in West Columbia, SC, Elgin Lights opened yesterday. Get in the holiday cheer, check out the lights, and at the same time you will help raise money for Camp Kemo and kids with cancer.
For two months every year, Paul Towns dedicates his life to lighting up others. Towns is on year 17 of Elgin Lights, an intricate Christmas light show on his two-acre property that takes six weeks just to set up.
Up until 2004, his family tried to turn down donations -- until Towns was diagnosed with cancer.
"We were going through all of the pain and agony of what we were going to do and what my life was going to be about," said Towns.
It was at that same time that Towns saw a News19 report on Cole Sawyer, an 11-year-old cancer patient who spent some of his final healthy days at Camp Kemo.
"When that story came on, we said this is meant to be," said Towns. "We need to keep Cole's dream alive and keep sending kids to camp like he did so that they can be a child for at least seven days."
Since then donations have grown. Last year, Elgin Lights raised enough money to send 14 children to Camp Kemo.
While Towns' show has kept Cole's dream alive, what he didn't know was it would do the same for him. Just last month, Towns' family learned his cancer returned for the fifth time.
"God has a way of putting it every year that he does get it, around Christmas," said his daughter, Christina Churchwell. "Even though he's going to be going through this cancer and we know it's here and everything, we get to see these smiles. This helps him pull through the slumps."
"I know I'm going to be going through the chemo, I know I'm going to have surgery and it's right now, but this is still going to go on and this keeps me going," said Towns. "If this wasn't here and it was all dark out here, I don't know what I would do."
Despite his struggles, Towns refuses to keep even a penny for himself.
"I'm 57-years-old, I'm over the hill, I'm okay," said Towns. "It's kids, I want to try and get them to reach that point, anyways."
Elgin Lights is open from December 15th through the 24th from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at 2433 Charlie Horse Circle.