Thousands raise lanterns in Light The Night walk

$1.7 million raised in annual cancer walk

Red, gold and white lanterns lit up the night outside La Villita Saturday evening as 12,000 people walked to end blood cancer.

The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's annual Light the Night walk in San Antonio is one of the country's largest. This year, they raised $1.7 million, much of which will go toward research and patient services.

Lanterns filled the crowd, each one signifying a connection to blood cancer. Those who lost someone held a gold lantern. Those who knew survivors held red. The survivors themselves held white.

Lauryn Hernandez, 14, held a white lantern as her team pushed her in a wheelchair along the course.

Hernandez was diagnosed with diffuse B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma in June, right before her freshman year of high school.

"My first thought when I was diagnosed was 'Am I still going to be able to walk?'" she said.

For the time being, the cancer and the treatments have her in a wheelchair. But that's not stopping her.

"I wanted to be out here to show I could still be in something," she said.

 The walk is one of the largest Light the Night walks in the United States. In 2015, it was second only to Manhattan.

"It's really inspiring and it's very emotional," said Pat Hilburn, Light the Night director.

Hilburn said the walk is about raising awareness and is a celebration after participants have spent months fundraising.

As Lauryn and her team made their way through the course they also made their way to what they hope will be an all clear scan later this month

"I'm really nervous but really excited," she said.

If all goes well, she could be back to walking in November

Ultimately, Light the Night is about the march toward a cure for everyone, toward the last case of cancer, toward the last lantern.

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