Leading the charge for Light the Night
Katelynn Northam - October 15, 2012
Brennan Curry was a 16-year old high school student, active in sports and in peak physical condition when he began suddenly experiencing debilitating stomach cramps.
Initially diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease, an inflammatory disease of the bowel, Curry (pictured, right) was forced to undergo surgery to relieve the symptoms. That was when the doctors realized that he didn’t have Crohn’s Disease after all, but Burkitt’s Lymphoma, an extremely rare version of non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
"I was kind of relieved that it wasn’t Crohn’s Disease, but I was also shocked, and in disbelief," he says.
Curry began chemotherapy immediately and was in the hospital for about three months. Fortunately, he’s now in remission, says he feels as healthy as ever, and is back to playing the sports he loves. This year, he became a kinesiology student at Dalhousie and even played baseball with the university’s club team. He had the opportunity to work with a physiotherapist during his recovery, and is now thinking about becoming one himself.
A disease that touches a community
Curry is just one of hundreds of Dalhousie community members whose lives have been touched by leukemia or lymphoma, which is why there are several Dal teams taking part in the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Light the Night walk on Saturday, Oct. 20. A team from the Faculty of Management will be walking in memory of faculty member Sunny Marche, who passed away this summer. The varsity women’s volleyball team is also taking part, and the Dalhousie Cheer squad will be cheering along the route.
Leslie Crowell, director of the Centre for Family Business and Regional Prosperity at Dalhousie, is this year’s campaign co-chair for Light the Night. She got involved with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society last year after losing her father to leukemia.
The Light the Night event came to Halifax for the first time last year, with a goal of raising $79,000. The event ended up raising $262,000. This year’s goal is $350,000, and fundraising is well on its way – impressive for an organization that only opened a Halifax office two years ago.
“It says to me that we need a walk like this because our community is being touched by these horrible diseases,” says Crowell (pictured, right).
Light the Night is not quite a typical fundraising walk. It takes place in the evening, and participants don't have to raise any money to join the walk. That said, participants who do raise at least $100 are given an illuminated coloured balloon: white is for patients, red for supporters, and gold for those walking in memory of someone who passed away from leukemia or lymphoma. The walk begins at 7 p.m. and is approximately 5 km long, starting at the South Common and going down South Park Stretet to University Avenue and Robie, past the hospital where leukemia and lymphoma patients will be able to watch from a special room.
"It's really a walk to be experienced," says Crowell. "It's quite a moving event, and it's hard to put into words."
Making a difference
Curry agrees, pointing out that seeing all of the balloons lit up is part of what makes the event special. The event has even more significance for him this year, as he was chosen by the society to be one of its "Honoured Heroes" for 2012. He is hoping to use the opportunity to raise awareness of these diseases.
Both hope that supports will consider joining the walk. People can either join a team, start a team, or walk as an individual by registering at http://www.lightthenight.ca/hal/register/
Of each dollar raised, 75 cents goes directly to the cause, and as Crowell points out, it's an opportunity to build awareness of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, which is still fairly new to our province.
"These diseases really don't discriminate," she says. "They are truly diseases of all ages, all sexes, all races."