Approximately 1,000 Santa Clarita residents came together to raise funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society by participating in the 11th annual Light The Night Walk at Bridgeport Park in Valencia Saturday.
The Light The Night Walk is a fundraising campaign benefiting the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, or LLS, and their funding of research to find blood cancer cures, according to their website.
“(This event) is a combination of being a fundraising event an event that also increases awareness of people and their fight against blood cancer,” said Frank Canning, regional vice president for the LLS. “It’s also an opportunity for patients and their families to come together and either celebrate, feel hopeful or also to mourn someone that they’ve lost.”
Canning has been with the LLS for 29 years and has been a part of approximately 70 Light The Night Walks.
“It’s a very emotional night. It’s a night of hope,” Canning said. “We’re raising money to support our programs, but we’re also celebrating the fact that we’ve made so many advances in the medical field and also in patient services. It’s just a super important night.”
Attendees received either a white, red or gold lantern, all having a different meaning.
Before the walk started, Brian Schneider, a five year survivor of Hodgkin’s lymphoma and the captain of team “Hodgkin’s Haters,” led the lantern lighting ceremony.
Nicole Hank, the captain of the Quest Diagnostics team, led attendees in lighting the red lanterns, which symbolized support for patients and finding cures.
“I grew up with a brother who was diagnosed at the age of two-and-a-half with leukemia. However, today, he is 27-years-old, a college graduate, a working professional and most importantly, he’s healthy,” said Hank. “I do this walk to support all of the families out there battling this disease so they too can watch their children grow and live healthy and happy lives, just like my brother.”
Desirae Tainatongo, the captain of the “Guam Bombs” team, led attendees in lighting the gold lanterns, which represented hope and remembering those that have been lost.
“I’m honored to walk in memory of my father, Kelvin Tainatongo. My dad was diagnosed with stage three lymphoma this year at the end of July, but unexpectedly passed away at the beginning of August,” said Tainatongo. “He was the most giving person I knew, the most selfless, a family man, a man of faith and my hero.”
Lastly, Karen Rogoff, a four year survivor of acute myelogenous leukemia, and a young boy by the name of Daniel, who is also a two-time survivor of leukemia, led attendees in lighting the white lanterns, which is in honor of the survivors of leukemia and lymphoma.
Rogaugh described the survivors as “heroes.”
There are approximately 275 Light The Night Walks throughout the country, Canning said. The event will raise over $55 million this year.
The Light The Night Walk at Bridgeport Park raised approximately $128,000, said Canning.
Marlee Lauffer, president of the Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital Foundation and vice president of marketing and communications at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital presented a check for $5,000 on behalf of Henry Mayo to the LLS.
Several people were also recognized at Saturday’s event who “made the walk what it is today.”
Those people were awarded the Founder’s Walk Award, which included Janice Murray, host and producer of the Non-Profit Spotlight Show at KHTS AM-1220.