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UT campus lights up for Leukemia and Lymphoma walk | News

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UT campus lights up for Leukemia and Lymphoma walk

(WBIR-KNOXVILLE) The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's 14th annual "Light the Night" walk brightened UT campus Thursday night. 

Nearly 1,500 people showed up to carry illuminated lanterns in support of their loved ones impacted by blood cancer.

"We have a mix of corporate walk teams and family," Lori Friel, event campaign manager, said. "We've got probably over a thousand walkers."

Participants carried three different colored lanterns at the event. Yellow represented supporters, red lanterns were made in memory of those lost to cancer, and white lanterns were given to survivors to display.

Friel said, this year, those carrying the white lanterns were particularly special.

"We have a lot more family teams and a lot more survivors that are walking," she said. "They're so proud to carry that white lantern."

Two-time Hodgkin's lymphoma survivor and Grammy-nominated bluegrass musician Phil Leadbetter was there with more than 50 family and friends for the fifth year in a row.

RELATED: Homegrown: Phil Leadbetter

"I'm in clinical trials at Vanderbilt," Leadbetter said. "I've already had a stem-cell that failed, but I'm just hanging in, getting well!"

He hopes this new treatment will make him a third-time survivor.

"It's not chemotherapy. It's immunotherapy," he said. "It attacks cancer cells, so your body fights cancer cells instead of chemo-drugs."

Leadbetter said he's been humbled by his fight with Hodgkin's lymphoma.

"Life's not promised, and going through this really lets you realize where you fit in."

And he encourages more people to come out and support all cancer awareness events.

"There are so many cancers that don't get enough recognition," Leadbetter said. "It's good this one is starting to, but there are so many brain cancers, pancreatic cancers, and if it's your family, that's the most important cancer. I hope to see one day to see October as cancer awareness month instead of breast cancer or lymphoma because everybody going through this needs their moment."

Friel said the event's goal was to raise about $225,000.

Before the walk even started, officials said the group had already nearly reached that goal.


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