The Renegade Rip

‘Light the Night’

Carisa A. Dalton

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People embraced each other as tears of joy and pain mirrored the sunset.

They were part of a crowd gathered in the warm and breezy evening for the second annual Light the Night Walk held at the Marketplace.

“It’s important to be here today and at events like this,” said Chad Hathaway, founder and chair of the event. “It definitely affects the people, but children the most. Our goal is to make this a regular event for people in Bakersfield to come out to. It’s all about getting together in the community and supporting one another.”

Hathaway was Bakersfield College’s top football kicker in 1996. He became ill a year later while attending Fresno State University and was diagnosed with leukemia.

He was lucky. Following a successful bone marrow transplant, he won his battle with leukemia. He said he was so inspired by Fresno’s Light the Night Walk, he decided to start one in Bakersfield.

Every year, the walk is held either in honor of someone who has fought leukemia. This year, the event was held in honor of the late Terrie Lynn Young, a woman who played a major role in last year’s walk. Julie Young, Terrie’s sister-in-law, said Terrie would have been proud. This year’s event raised $50,000.

“Events like this are wonderful,” said Julie Young. “The sponsors are great and that’s what it takes. We need events like this in Bakersfield. There are so many survivors of leukemia and so many battling it in Bakersfield. Terrie would have been proud. … She wanted to find a cure for cancer.”

Terrie Young was only 47 when she died. She received a bone marrow transplant eight years ago from a donor in England who happened to see a sign for donating marrow. Her team had 62 people and raised more than $4,700.

This year, music filled the air thanks to Johnny Blue, who traveled from Arvin to provide entertainment. The magical part happens when the night fell and the lights clicked on.

People walked hand in hand. Others wiped tears away as they took each step for the loved one pictured on the back of their shirts. Support rang from every part of the event, making it seem as if the group were all one big family.

Even children participated.

Nine-year-old Lauren Ashley Morton’s cancer has been in remission for eight months. She spoke of her own personal battle with what she calls “the bullies.”

“You might think leukemia is something you can catch from me like a cold, but that’s not true,” she said. “It’s not that smart. It just can’t win and it won’t.”

Chemotherapy can hurt, she said, but “we walk to save people’s lives.”

Her mother, Sherri Morton, sheds tears when she spoke of her experience of seeing her little girl suffer.

“It’s really imperative that all of us give a little bit of our time and money for supporting the work of love and research.”

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The news site of Bakersfield College
‘Light the Night’