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LTN: Why We Walk

Updated: Oct 4, 2020

Every October the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) hosts the fundraising event Light the Night (LTN) where participants can walk the National Mall holding lanterns in support of, in memory of, or being a survivor of blood cancer. Due to Covid restrictions, LTN has changed into a virtual event this year. It certainly won’t be as fun as watching the different colored lanterns go by the National Mall, but the need is greater now more than ever.

Light the Night is a momentous occasion that the Young Hearts participate in every year since 2000. Collectively over the last 20 years, the Young Hearts Foundation has raised over 1 million dollars for LLS.

I had the pleasure of interviewing a few of our Light the Night officers, Lydia and Caitlin, about their favorite memories, best fundraising strategies, and everything else Light the Night. Here's what they had to say.

First up is Lydia, a senior LTN captain that has been in Young Hearts since freshman year and states that she wanted to become a captain because “LTN was my favorite activity that we did in Young Hearts..I really enjoyed seeing those working at Light the Night and that being their job.” A LTN memory that resonated with her was her freshman year when LTN coincidentally fell on the same night as homecoming. To her surprise, “Light the Night ended up being more fun than the dance.” She also refers to LTN being a great bonding experience and transition into her freshman year as she got to reunite and talk to many of the friends she made in Frost, that she hadn’t seen in a while.

Similar to how LTN brought Lydia closer to old and new friends, LTN brings supporters and survivors together from all around the country to celebrate their efforts in funding for blood cancer research.

Second is Caitlin, a sophomore LTN captain who states that she wanted to become a captain because “I love being able to support a cause I am deeply touched by.” She walks LTN in memory of her “family members that have been touched by cancer” and feels that “LLS really supports cancer patients and the research behind beating cancer.” The image of “watching everyone walk around..with lanterns lit..” resonated with Caitlin and persuaded her to “be more involved in [the club] than just being a member.”

While the same lights and national mall will not be lit up on October 23rd as those that Caitlin talks about, the beauty of Light the Night now comes from a different aspect: the community that attends.

Now that we’ve met the LTN captains and their stories on why they walk, there are now questions on how they have fundraised for their walk. How does someone start fundraising?

The goal for every Young Heart this year is to raise $350, which is a lot less daunting once fundraising season begins. Lydia suggests that she used to go “knock door to door in past years,” but usually her mom putting her LTN fundraising page on her Facebook helps her reach her goal as well. Caitlin mentions starting to “send emails and texts to friends and family. Remember, the earlier the better!”

Other methods brought up is to write handwritten letters to friends and family to give a personal touch to those you reach out to. The response to a handwritten letter is usually much more generous than an email CC’d to 20 contacts at once.

We encourage all of our club members this year to participate in this year’s Light the Night. Time and time again, Young Hearts has been a club that actively pushes its members to change their community whether it’s through door-to-door fundraising or sending a quick text message about LLS. Remember that, no matter how insignificant you feel your part in Light the Night is, whether it’s just walking with the team or becoming the club’s top fundraiser, it is ultimately your participation that strengthens our message to fight for the cure one dollar at a time.

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