BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Magical. That’s the word AnnaLynn Williams uses to describe the annual Light the Night Walk in Delaware Park.
“They should come if they’ve never been. Right as the sun sets, we begin our walk around the two mile loop,” Williams explained.
Lanterns help light the way. Survivors carry white; caregivers carry red; those who have lost loved ones carry yellow lanterns. This year, Williams will carry white. Her diagnosis of acute leukemia when she was only 22 years-old came out of nowhere.
“I thought I had tonsillitis, or maybe something as crazy as measles or mumps, but I never thought that it would be cancer. I went to the doctor, and eight hours later he was knocking at my front door to tell me I had an acute leukemia,” she recalled.
They started treatment at Roswell almost immediately. “I was an in-patient for about a month, and they were able to get me into remission. The year that followed that was full of high-dose outpatient chemo which worked for awhile, but after about a year we found out that I had actually relapsed.”
Williams needed a bone marrow transplant, but first, her cancer had to be in remission. Doctors had to turn to a relatively new drug, a drug that was paid for by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. ” Without that funding, without that medicine, it’s very possible that I wouldn’t be sitting here today,” she said.
Now Williams and her parents, Debbie and Rocco Surace, are leading the fight to get others to Light the Night. The fundraiser in Buffalo will be held at 7PM on Friday, September 23. Last year more than three thousand people walked and raised $440,000.
“When you see all those balloons, that’s when you realize how many people it’s affected,” Debbie Surace said. “We all know people, and you’ll get to experience the enormity of it and what it means to really support [those in need],” Rocco Surace explained.
“There’s nothing more meaningful than being surrounded by people that are fighting for the same thing that you’re fighting for,” AnnaLynn Williams recalled. She’s been in remission for more than five years and is currently studying for her PhD in epidemiology.
Editor’s note: Registration information is available here. News 4’s Jordan Williams will once again serve as honorary co-chair for the walk. News 4 has proudly helped sponsor the walk for years.