Last Sunday, the Beta Upsilon Chapter of Alpha Omicron Pi participated in the Light the Night Walk in Providence for the second year in a row. The Light the Night Walk is the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s annual walk and fundraising event – and the nation’s night to pay tribute and bring hope to those battling blood cancer. In 2015, we walked to support our sister Vim who had just been diagnosed with Lymphoma and now, a year later, we walked in her honor as a survivor. It was an incredible experience to attend an event that means so much to others that have lost loved ones and are going through similar situations as our sister, and now it means so much to us as well.

AOII’s national philanthropy is the Arthritis Foundation, but we also pride ourselves in our community involvement that makes us unique. Our main goal is to support those that we love, so in addition to putting on events for our national philanthropy, we have also made supporting the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and the Scleroderma Foundation a priority. It is our privilege to support the organizations that have provided sisters and their families the means to survive an illness or to continue to make strides so others can. Our VimStrong team raised over $4,000 last year and over $1,000 this year for LLS.

We attended the walk on Sunday blessed to have a sister with the strength to overcome this disease and we walk to ensure others have access to the treatments, services, and providers that Vim did. The highest fundraising individual raised over $15,000 for the cause and the highest fundraising team raised over $3,000. There is a strong community behind those battling blood cancer to find a cure. Blood cancers are different because there are no means of preventing or early screening for most variations. The donations from the walk will go towards bridging the gap between academic discovery and drug development. LLS’s main function is to identify and fund promising blood cancer research projects and to create partnerships with academic institutions and biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies to accelerate the development of new therapies. LLS provided $41.8 million to patients in 2015 and they are looking to provide even more in future years, with the help of their supporters.

During the opening ceremony, an individual who has been conducting scientific research with funding from the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society spoke about how grateful he is for the chance to help make a difference for so many people. He noted that the personal connections he has made through LLS have enriched his career and have given him a purpose for his work. He couldn’t thank the walkers enough for their fundraising and participation.

Before kicking off the walk, a young survivor of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, or ALL, spoke about her experiences. She talked about how as a teenager many would not guess what she has gone through. Many would not understand the pain or the sickness she had suffered. She shared her struggle to separate herself from her disease. It was important for her to understand while going through treatments that she was stronger than ALL and she was not defined by her sickness. She has a bright life ahead of her and so do others in her situation, thanks to the contributions of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

I already look forward to next year’s walk, to celebrate a second year of my sister being cancer-free and for every other individual who will have won their fight. We raised our lanterns on Sunday to symbolize an end to blood cancer, sooner rather than later. Light the Night walks were happening that night throughout the US and it felt empowering to join in solidarity to take steps to cure cancer, not only with my sisters but 500 others. Join AOII and LLS in their efforts and donate at lls.org to help make someday, today.

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