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Hundreds “Light the Night” in Kalamazoo

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KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Despite the rain, hundreds turned out for “Light the Night” at Kalamazoo’s Bronson Park. The walk is organized by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS).

Lonnie Johnson learned he had leukemia 6 years ago.

“Cause [the doctor] told me, I only have about two months to live because it was going fast,” Johnson said.

He received a bone marrow transplant from his sister and is now in remission. Johnson is fighting Grafts versus Host disease, which attacks different parts of the body.

Johnson held a white luminary along with other survivors. Family and friends held a red luminary. The yellow luminaries represented those who lost their lives to the cancer which doesn’t discriminate when it comes to ethnicity and age.

Four-year-old Phoenix was also diagnosed with a form of leukemia 2-and-a-half years ago.

“She just finished treatment in June. Unfortunately, she had a bad infection in her ears and she lost her hearing,” Brenda Zwyghuizen, an LLS campaign coordinator said.

She added, “The good news is 95% of our kids who are diagnosed with ALL survive.”

Johnson, 64, is fighting Grafts versus Host disease. It causes complications from the bone marrow transplant. He’s not taking it sitting down. His family joined him on the walk, helping to raise money for the cause. In fact, “Team Johnson” led by Lonnie’s son Chad was recognized on stage for raising $5,290.

“We raise funds to help with co-pays and financial aid for our patients. Last year we gave away 1.3 million in financial aid to Michigan residents,” Zwyghuizen said.

The funds are also for research that will hopefully lead to a cure.

“You know cancer is a killing machine,” Johnson said.

If you want to donate, just go to lightthenight.org.

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