2,000 walk in Augusta for those with leukemia, lymphoma

Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012 9:31 PM
Last updated Sunday, Sept. 23, 2012 2:48 AM
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More than 2,000 red, gold and white balloons filled downtown streets Sat­urday night as people in Augusta marched for patients diagnosed with leukemia and lymphoma.

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Hundreds begin the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Light The Night Walk at the Augusta Common on Saturday evening in Augusta.  MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
Hundreds begin the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Light The Night Walk at the Augusta Common on Saturday evening in Augusta.

“It’s hard to explain knowing all these people are out here for you,” said Meryl Edwards, who held a white survivors balloon.

Edwards was diagnosed with leukemia in May 2010 and went into remission before relapsing in August 2011, after which she needed a bone marrow transplant.

On Saturday after marching two miles for the Light the Night Walk, she said she felt “wonderful.”

About 150 of the 2,250 walkers were survivors. Children of all ages and even dogs joined in the march that started at Augusta Common and went along Riverwalk Augusta.

This year’s event raised more than $195,000. With more donations anticipated, group leaders say they expect to see the total break $200,000.

Kate Sanders, the campaign manager, said Augusta raised $11,000 at its first event 13 years ago.

Mixed in among the survivors were supporters with red balloons and others with gold balloons marching in memory of someone.

Zora Miller marched in memory of family members.

Since the late 1980s, Miller has lost a sister, brother, brother-in-law, nephew and cousin to the cancers.

“This is beautiful to see all this love and support,” she said. “Everyone here has been through the same thing.”

Ceci Thomas, 9, of Beech Island, was one of the younger walkers, but she had dedicated herself to the cause and has contributed almost $4,000 raised through projects, yard sales and a fundraising Web site.

When she reaches $25,000, she plans to shave her head.

“We spent a couple of months trying to talk her out of it (shaving her head),” said her mother, Dena Thomas, who offered the alternative of cutting her hair short.

Ceci said that cancer patients don’t have the option of a short haircut.

“Mom says she has to have a lock of my hair when I cut it,” Ceci said of her blonde curls.

The child became inspired after hearing a mother talk about her son’s struggle with cancer during a reception in June.

“That night she said ‘Is $25,000 a lot of money?’ ” Thomas said.

Despite the answer, Ceci set forth on her mission.


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