The inaugural ‘Light the Night’ walk in Lethbridge raised $10,000 in its first year for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada in a fight to end blood cancers.
Around 70 people came out to Henderson Lake on Saturday holding lanterns in solidarity. Red in support, gold in memory and white for survivors and those still fighting.
“There’s actually 137 different types of blood cancers,” Melanie Seneviratne, Fund Development Manager for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada said. “That’s why doing research is so imperatively important.”
Without it, Marty Vredegoor wouldn’t be where he is today, walking the three-kilometre trek around the lake as a survivor.
It’s been six months since Vredegoor heard the words “cancer free,” after being diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia last year.
“It was tough. All of a sudden your whole body is just kinda going in different directions,” he said. “You’re tired, you have headaches and just everything is shutting down and you don’t know what’s going on.”
Vanessa Hengerer has been cancer free for nine years. She’s been helping others on their journey ever since.
“It’s nice to know that you’re not alone and sometimes when you go through these cancers you may have your caregivers, your family support, but then you feel like no one else understands what you’ve been through,” she said.
With an initial goal of $5,000 Seneviratne says she’s hopeful the walk will one day become nationally recognized.
“We do 11 national walks basically in the major cities,” she said. “If we can raise $25,000 then it becomes recognized, so that for next year we might be able to hit that for here.”
She adds the walk will also be moved to the fall to give the full effect of the lanterns.
For those still fighting Vredegoor says the money raised shines a light and gives hope.
“There’s hope. They’re looking for cures everyday and walks like this do a lot,” he said.