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Walkers Light the Night for cancer

October 07, 2006|by ERIN JULIUS

Light the Night celebrated lives lost and lives just beginning Friday night.

About 250 people participated in Washington County's first one-mile walk to raise money for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society at Fairgrounds Park, organizers said.

Before the walk, Alex Marinelli, 12, who was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia in June, spoke to the crowd.

"I'm just glad to have everyone here, supporting me in this terrible time," Alex said.

A team of 85 people from St. Mary School, where Alex is in the seventh grade, walked on a team named in honor of Alex. All walkers had to raise a minimum of $25 to participate.

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According to Alex's father, Dr. Paul Marinelli, doctors have given Alex a 90 percent chance to live. Medicine has made great advances in treating the disease, but the only way doctors have to cure Alex's cancer is through a bone marrow transplant, he said.

But medicine is "on the cusp of amazing developments," which is why fundraising events such as Light the Night are important, he said.

Alex assured those attending that even with his cancer, which currently is in remission, "I can still run and jump and play like a normal kid."

Many of the walkers at Light the Night wore stickers showing that they walked in honor of Art Richards Jr., who died of blood cancer in May.

The employees of Richards World Travel made the loop around the park as a team.

Light the Night organizers expected to raise between $15,000 and $20,000, said Jessica Suriano, senior director of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Suriano called the fundraiser "outstanding" for a community's first-time effort.

Suzie Menard, chairperson of Light the Night, is no stranger to fundraisers, though she has not personally been touched by the diseases. She has raised more than $30,000 for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society by running in two other marathons, four half-marathons and a triathlon.

Wendy Saylor usually participates in events for breast cancer awareness, but her brother-in-law has lymphoma, and "Connie Richards went to a lot of effort to do this in Art's memory," so Saylor decided to walk in Light the Night.

Pauline Trumble and her family also walked in memory of Art Richards.

"He was a wonderful guy," Trumble said.

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