Rachel Elliot of Leaf River, Illinois, an acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) survivor, will be honored Saturday, Sept. 27, at The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) annual Light The Night Walk in Rockford.
The Rockford event will begin at 4:30 p.m., Sept. 27, at Martin Park, 5600 Park Ridge Road, Loves Park, Illinois. Pre-walk festivities include music, food, entertainment and kids’ activities. Elliot will be recognized during a brief program that begins at 5:45 p.m., and the walk begins at sundown.
Elliot will join thousands of other participants at locations around northwest Indiana and Illinois to honor survivors, remember loved ones, and walk in recognition of those still battling blood cancers.
In 2013, Elliot was an ordinary college student taking classes and working part-time. One day, she was feeling tired and stressed and fainted at work. After taking her first ambulance ride and being admitted to the hospital for the first time in her life, Elliot was diagnosed with ALL, the most common pediatric cancer.
Elliot began chemotherapy, and after one month, was in remission. However, her battle had just begun. She felt awful from the side effects, suffering fatigue and hair loss.
“Fighting cancer is the hardest thing I have ever [done],” Elliot said.
Through her battle with leukemia, Elliot discovered The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and learned about Light The Night. Fund-raising for a cure was a welcomed distraction for Elliot, giving her a purpose and a goal.
In September 2013, Elliot started to see her life fall back into place. Her hair grew back, she returned to work, and most excitedly, she resumed her classes. She celebrated one year in remission in March. She hopes to finish college and fulfill her dreams of becoming a K-12 teacher and traveling to teach English to non-native speakers.
Kate Monteleone, executive director of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Greater Illinois Chapter, said: “We are so appreciative to Rachel for sharing her experience with leukemia. The Light The Night Walk is an opportunity to celebrate survivors like Rachel, stand alongside those currently fighting, and remember the loved ones we have lost to a blood cancer. Thanks to the dollars raised at Light The Night, we are saving more lives not someday, but today.”
Light the Night is a 2-mile, non-competitive event. In communities throughout the country, participants carry illuminated lanterns while they walk white for survivors, red for supporters and gold to remember those lost to a blood cancer. Participants join with their family, friends and co-workers to raise funds for LLS in advance of the Walk.
In addition to the Rockford Walk on Saturday, Sept. 27, the Chicago, Elmhurst and Northwest Indiana Walks will take place Saturday, Oct. 18, and the Glenview Light The Night Walk will take place Sunday, Oct. 19. Last year, participants raised more than $58 million nationwide, and nearly $2 million in Illinois.
For more information or to register for a local walk, contact the Greater Illinois Chapter of LLS at (312) 651-7354 or visit lightthenight.org/il.
From the Sept. 24-30, 2014, issue