Light the night

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Josh Morton

The Corsair

Light the Night is an event set up by The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society to bring awareness to blood cancers, leukemia and lymphoma.

Originally started in 1949, the organization is still going strong in 2012.

The group set up in downtown Pensacola at Seville Square on Nov. 8 with the gazebo serving as the hub.

Balloons were raised accordingly to bring attention to those who have lost loved ones to cancer, those who have defeated cancer, and those who knew someone who has had cancer. Gold balloons represented those who have passed, white balloons represented survivors, and red balloons represented friends and family of cancer victims.

At 7 p.m., everybody’s attention was directed towards the gazebo and all balloons were asked to be lowered. The announcer asked everybody who was given a gold balloon to raise it.  All in attendance offered a moment of silence to those who lost the battle to cancer. Next, those holding white balloons were asked to raise them in victory. A roar of applause erupted from all corners of Seville Square in celebration of those strong individuals who defeated the disease. Lastly, those holding red balloons lifted theirs up.

Finally, it was time to start walking.

Everyone walked two laps around the block to bring awareness to those who passed by or watched and wondered what was going on.

It was a breathtaking view of what looked like a river of red, white, and gold balloons flowing slowly through the streets of downtown Pensacola.

Waiting at the finish line for all participants were two long tables littered with various sweets along with multiple barrels filled with ice water, soda and bottled water available for all to take at will.

Meanwhile, Dish Jockey Roger kept the party vibe alive with dance hits like “The Wobble Song” and the “Cha-Cha Slide.” Cap’n Gianni the Pirate walked around making balloon animals and hats for anybody and everybody.

I spoke with Melanie Mooney, the executive director of the Alabama Gulf Coast chapter to get a few details on the history and movement behind this group of light-spreading busy bodies.

 

How long has this entire organization been around?

The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society has been around since 1949.

 So how many of these events would you say you do annually? Is this your main focus?

This is one of our core events. We have five walks. Pensacola, Huntsville, Mussel Shoals, Dothan and Birmingham. Is that five? [laughs]

 I think it was.

This is our last event of the year. This is our closing out of the year.

 Do you all do them all in the fall?

Typically they are all fall events, yeah.

How can people sponsor future Light the Night events?

They would need to contact Kate Mclean. She is our Light the Night campaign coordinator. Her email address is Kate.Mclean@lls.org. Of course, you can also go to www.lls.org/alabama to find out about any of our events or www.lightthenight.org/alabama.

 Could you share some information regarding the organization and its mission?

Our mission is to cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma. And I tell people, “blood cancers” if you can’t remember all of that because it is pretty wordy.

 How did you get set up with this group? Did you have somebody that was affected by it?

I did. I have been in this industry, involved with other organizations since 2000. My grandmother passed away from multiple myeloma. But it was one of those, where she passed away and then I got a call and I thought, oh maybe I should get involved in this! So, usually it’s the opposite, you know, where you go after it, but somebody called me and it was kind of like, a freak thing. But you know, a lot of people, when they think ‘cancer,’ they think breast cancer because they have such a huge marketing campaign. And that’s fantastic. Not to take anything away from them, but blood cancer is the number three cancer killer. It’s second to colon and lung. Every four minutes, someone is diagnosed with a blood cancer. Hodgkin’s is one of the most curable forms of lymphoma. However, non-Hodgkin’s is not so easy to defeat. And multiple myeloma is actually cancer of the bone marrow. It’s the non-Hodgkin’s and the multiple myelomas that you really want to watch out for. A lot of people would be inclined to think that “non-Hodgkin’s” is good, because of the “non.”  An easy way to remember non-Hodgkin’s being bad is that “No! Non! No, you don’t want that.”

 Alright, thanks Melanie! I appreciate it.

Yeah! No problem. Thanks for coming out! Have a good night!

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