People in Pictou County raised $37,772 for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada during Light the Night Pictou.
The fundraising event was held at the deCoste Entertainment Centre on Saturday, Sept. 15 and included a walk along the Jitney trail.
Darla MacKeil was MC for the event and said that like many of those gathered, she has a personal reason for participating. Her husband’s first cousin, who is like a sister to them was diagnosed with leukemia at the age of 3. She is now 33 and cancer free.
“That’s why I light the night,” MacKeil said. “Our reasons for being here are diverse but our goal is singular. We’re here to celebrate the lives we’ve lost, support those who are facing a diagnosis and show Pictou and the world that we want to see the end of cancer.”
Stanley Cup winner Joe DiPenta, who is also the Vice President of Development for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, also spoke at the event.
He told of how, when he was a member of the Halifax Mooseheads, the players would visit the IWK on a weekly basis. It was there he met a young girl named Jessica who had leukemia. She came to a lot of his games throughout the season and he always talked to her for a few minutes afterward.
About seven years later he was on the Anaheim Ducks team when they won the Stanley Cup. As he was preparing for a parade to celebrate it, he was approached by a couple teens.
“Do you remember me?” one of them asked.
It took a minute, but finally it came to him.
“I’m all better now,” Jessica told him.
As exciting a day as it was for his hockey career, it was seeing her healthy and with full long hair that stuck out to him.
“I remember her as a patient and when she didn’t have hair.”
It became important to him to help others achieve that same health again and when opportunities presented themselves to help out, he did.
Another speaker at the event was Donna Murray, who told about her brother Paul Rudolph’s battle with cancer. He was diagnosed in October 2011 and passed away less than two years later.
But during his life and during his battle, Rudolph taught her many important lessons, she said.
“The most important one was never give up,” she said. “Although Paul lost his battle he believed there would be a day when no one would. This year we honour his fight by lighting the night to help make his belief a reality.”
She said she was very proud of what they were able to accomplish with this year’s event.
“Tonight our support could have saved a life or it brings us that much closer to finding a cure. That is very powerful.”