DEL MAR — Thousands of supporters attended the 12th annual Light the Night event — an evening walk in celebration and remembrance of lives touched by blood cancers — at the Del Mar Fairgrounds on Nov. 5.
Four thousand registered walkers filled the sky with colored balloons — white for survivors, red for supporters and gold in memory of those who have been lost to cancer — during the 2-mile walk around the fairgrounds sponsored by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, or LLS.
“This is our one time of year that we bring everyone together,” LLS’ San Diego-based deputy executive officer Kristin Sacco said. “We really appreciate everyone’s support.”
Sponsored participants of all ages walked with families, school groups and co-workers to raise money for LLS, which awards grant funding to doctors pursuing blood cancer research. The event was expected to raise more than $300,000 for the society, Sacco said.
“We’ve been doing this as a team for eight years,” Jessica Lane of Team Melisa said.
More than 40 people joined Lane to walk in memory of Melisa McGuire, founder of Girard Securities. The corporate team was recognized as a top fundraiser for 2009’s walk. “We’re more than a company, we’re a family,” she said.
While many survivors were on hand to participate in the walk, an emotional remembrance ceremony was also held in honor of McGuire and the countless others who have lost their fight against leukemia, lymphoma and other blood cancers.
“We want the event to be a celebration of life, but we also want to remember those that we’ve lost,” Sacco said. “A lot of people are here because of that personal connection.”
Now in its 12th year, Light the Night has experienced an overwhelming amount of support from the local community.
“When we started, we maybe had half the number of people at this event,” Sacco said. “As it’s matured and has gotten more exposure, it just keeps getting bigger every year.”
Sweetheart the Mime and other clowns performed a carnival act before the walk, while Monte Vista High School cheerleaders and the Lincoln High School Pep Band were stationed on the route to keep the crowd lively.
Souplantation, Pop Chips and Nestle water sponsored the event and provided food and beverages for the hungry walkers.
LLS hosts the annual fundraising event around the United States and Canada, with walks taking place in more than 200 communities. For more information, visit www.lightthenight.org.