DAYTON — It’s nearing the end of September National Childhood Cancer Awareness and Leukemia & Lymphoma Awareness Month and area walkers are preparing for the Thursday, Oct. 1, Dayton “Light The Night” walk for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society at Kettering’s Fraze Pavilion. It’s a perfect time to celebrate all patients and families fighting blood cancer, especially LLS “Honored Hero” Zach Meredith, an 11-year-old leukemia survivor from Springboro.
Diagnosed with T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia in 2011, Zach is in remission and could be declared cancer free by the time he and his team take part in Thursday’s Light The Night Walk. He said he reminded himself to “keep fighting and be strong” as he endured chemotherapy treatments, painful tumors and the shots his parents had to give him twice a day.
“He as a normal kid, playing baseball, when they found a mass in his chest,” said Zach’s dad Bill Meredith. “That began his journey.” He praised the support from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society as Zach battled back, and thanked Light The Night teams for their fundraising work.
Zach is now a sixth-grader at Springboro Intermediate School. He’s not playing baseball again just yet, but his dad said his interests have changed. “He wants to be a nurse someday and help kids who have leukemia.”
Helping others, fighting cancer, and winning the fight are all part of Light The Night. “Someday is today,” said lymphoma patient and 2015 LTN Walk Chairman Donnie Hill.
“We’re going to turn the lights off in our organization. We’re going to cure cancer and we can do it with your help,” said Hill.
LLS Dayton Campaign Manager Karen Carter said the 2015 fundraising goal is $283,000.
“Dayton raised a million dollars last year for Light The Night and the Man and Woman of the Year campaign,” Carter said. “Dayton has heart.”
The 2014 Dayton Light The Night raised $258,809, including the contribution of $76,372 by the Community Blood Center/Community Tissue Services team, a record for the Tri-State Southern Ohio LLS chapter.
Changes for the 2015 LTN walk include a Survivor’s Parade on-stage at the start of the event. “We’ve also changed the walk route,” Carter said. “We’ll no longer be walking through the ‘wilds of the woods’ with only lantern light!”