Students from All Saints Catholic School decorate the Tree of Hope at the Roswell Museum and Art Center, Tuesday afternoon. (Mark Wilson Photo)
Year after year, decade after decade, the Tree of Hope has encouraged children in Roswell to believe a cure for cancer can be found in their lifetimes.
This year’s tree was decorated by students of All Saints Catholic School at Roswell Museum and Arts Center Tuesday and will remain on display at the museum until Jan. 2.
Roswell resident Pamela Rambin, who has overseen the display since 1995, opened the tree decorating ceremony by encouraging the students to learn about cancer and support victims of the disease’s many manifestations.
“By the time you all get big like us, there will be a cure out there, we’re hoping,” she said.
Rambin worked for the American Cancer Society as a field representative in Southeastern New Mexico for more than 10 years.
She said she has lost two friends and two family members to cancer and that her experience with the illness adds a personal element to the event.
Students decorating the tree also said they knew people who had been affected by the disease.
All Saints eighth-grader Doralynn Trujillo, 13, said the mother of one of her friends has cancer.
“I’m just supporting her because it’s hard for her because she doesn’t know what’s going to happen to her mom,” Trujillo said.
All Saints students became involved in making ornaments for the tree in 2008. Bertha Reyes, who teaches kindergarten at the school, said the activity is meant to teach students compassion.
“We encourage hope through prayer and meditation and this is a very dear project that the students enjoy doing along with teachers,” she said.
The first Tree of Hope in Chaves County was erected in 1957, according to a press release written by Rambin. Rambin said the tree has migrated throughout Roswell since then, landing at RMAC more than 30 years ago.
Ornaments on this year’s tree were mostly made of recycled materials such as toilet paper tubes and old Christmas cards.
Tuesday’s ceremony included a visit from two elves and Santa Claus, also known as Vernon Dyer, who is a consultant in the oil and gas industry and coaches track and cross country running at Roswell schools.
Dyer has appeared at the Tree of Hope event in Kris Kringle garb since 1995. The longtime American Cancer Society volunteer said one reason he attends the event is that he has battled skin cancer.
While many forms of cancer have been conquered, Dyer said he hopes to one day see a cure for all.
“It just takes time,” he said.