As I’m sure most of you know by now, we had a very successful second LTN walk in Palo Alto last weekend, raising over $70,000 for blood cancer research! We have now completed two of our three walks, with the third one scheduled this Saturday, October 23rd in San Jose. If you’re interested in joining, it’s not too late – contact Nicole.Stone@lls.org for more info or to sign up. Meanwhile, read on for the write-up on our most recent event!
Over six hundred people turned out for the annual Light The Night® Walk (LTN) in Palo Alto this past Saturday, October 16, with teams of co-workers, families and friends coming out to help build awareness about the more than 957,000 people in the United States living with a blood cancer and the many thousands more who have lost the battle.
Among those gathered was local community member Jim McGovern, who lost his two-year-old grandson to leukemia in 1998. This loss almost tore his family apart and drove McGovern to wage his own war against blood cancers so that there would be “no more victims like Ben.” McGovern, the honorary speaker for the night, shared Ben’s tragic story with the crowds and sent them off on their two-mile walk through Palo Alto with his customary cheer of “way to go, Ben!”
Light The Night, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) annual fundraising walk held in communities throughout the country, features teams of co-workers, families and friends walking together in twilight holding illuminated balloons – white for survivors, red for supporters and gold to remember those who have died. The Walk, which commemorates lives touched by blood cancers, is a celebration, with music, refreshments and family activities.
This year, Palo Alto residents raised more than $70,000 for the Silicon Valley and Monterey Bay Area chapter of LLS. According to McGovern, it is these events, and this level of support that will eventually eradicate childhood leukemia. “For children, the survival rate was 4% when Ben was diagnosed. It is now 87%. I like to think Ben’s donation was a big part of this,” McGovern says.
According to McGovern, “it took several years to fully realize what a loss Ben’s death was to the family.” As he struggled to find some way of coping with Ben’s untimely death, McGovern came upon the idea of organizing a fundraising walk in Ben’s memory, to benefit LLS. In 2003, McGovern used his considerable influence to launch the first annual “Walking for Ben” event, which became so successful that several years later, LLS turned it into an official event, and the Palo Alto LTN walk was born. Now, Ben’s memory walks on every October as hundreds of people gather to walk the two-mile course, their lit balloons brightening the night sky as they march on in memory of all those who have lost the battle to blood cancers, and in honor of those still fighting.
The Palo Alto Walk was the second of three walks held by the Silicon Valley and Monterey Bay Area chapter of LLS. The third and final walk will be held in San Jose on October 23rd. Teams are still forming for this remaining walk. Details on how to sign up can be found at the local LTN website at http://www.lightthenight.org/sj/.