Organizers of this year’s Light the Night, which is held in support of blood cancer research, hope members of the community can join them Oct. 19 as they take to the Rotary Trail to raise awareness and funds for the eradication of various blood cancers.
Leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s lymphoma and myeloma can all be beat, but for every inspirational tale of perseverance and survival, there are even more about those who could not hang on long enough and died as a result of the fast moving diseases that affect blood cells, bone marrow and lymph nodes to name a few.
“I lost my niece to leukemia 11 years ago, she was 19,” said Westlock organizer Joanne Rimmer, with tears in her eyes as fresh as the day she lost her niece.
“I had positive thoughts the whole time, I thought she was going to get over it and everything was going to be back to normal and it didn’t work out. I didn’t want other families to go through that, so I thought it was a good thing to help raise money.
“It has been 11 years and I’m still crying. It’s one way we can do something to say we really miss her.”
Rimmer also has a close friend who was able to survive leukemia after a donation of stem cells from her brother saved her life. She also has another friend in Manitoba who is currently fighting off leukemia, with some success. These are her reasons for lighting up the night, so called because participants often hold lanterns of different colours that denote how that individual has been affected.
White lanterns are carried by survivors, gold is in remembrance and red is in support, which together makes for quite a sea of colour moving through the town.
Rimmer, who has been taking part in the event in one form or another for 11 years and helping to organize the Westlock event for the last six years is a proponent of having a bare-bones event with little flash or overhead to make sure as much money as possible is donated to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada.
Any sponsors or potential contributors are asked to donate directly to the cause instead of providing other supports, which are appreciated, but ultimately unneeded.
“I want every dollar that gets raised to actually go towards what we’re actually raising money for. I don’t want to waste it on silly things.”
Rimmer is urging those who want to participate to start collecting sponsors, and to register at www.lightthenight.ca. Participants should meet at the Rotary Spirit Centre after 6:30 p.m. Oct. 19 for the walk that will begin at 7 p.m., winding it way east on the Rotary Trail to the healthcare centre, then eventually on to the pool. All are welcome to join, from babies in strollers to their great-great parents, said Rimmer, who also noted the event will take place rain or shine.