LLS Light The Night set for Oct. 1

By: Maria Allard | C&G Newspapers | Published September 18, 2020

 Melissa and Curtis Crowe and their son Gabe, of Harrison Township, will participate in “Light The Night” Oct. 1. Gabe, who turns 3 this December, was diagnosed with infant acute lymphoblastic leukemia two years ago.

Melissa and Curtis Crowe and their son Gabe, of Harrison Township, will participate in “Light The Night” Oct. 1. Gabe, who turns 3 this December, was diagnosed with infant acute lymphoblastic leukemia two years ago.

Photo provided by Melissa Crowe

METRO DETROIT — On Oct. 1, the Michigan Chapter of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society will “Light The Night.”

The virtual event — to be held statewide from 7 to 8 p.m. — is dedicated to supporting patients living with blood cancers, remembering loved ones no longer here and celebrating blood cancer survivors.

In past years, participants have gathered in person at various “Light The Night” events across the state. However, because of COVID-19, organizers will hold his year’s event virtually. To participate in the metro Detroit event, visit www.lightthenight.org/events/detroit. This year’s virtual activities will include a selfie station, team village, kid’s zone, remembrance pavilion and more.

“While the pandemic has canceled many things, cancer is not one of them, and cancer patients need our help now more than ever,” LLS Michigan-Indiana Region Executive Director Chad Creekmore said. “Light The Night plays a critical role in helping raise awareness and fund research and treatment advances, not just for blood cancer, but for many other forms of cancer as well, while serving as a lifeline for financial support and treatment for Michigan cancer families, especially with the additional challenges of this pandemic.”

Light The Night teams raise money for the LLS by seeking monetary donations while participating in local walk-a-thons. Participants carry lanterns — white is for patients and survivors, red is for supporters and gold is for anyone walking in memory of a loved one. The goal this year is to raise $500,000 statewide. Last year’s metro Detroit walk was held at Hart Plaza in Detroit.

Other Michigan Light The Night virtual events are scheduled in Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids and mid-Michigan. September is National Blood Cancer Awareness Month, and Light The Night is its cumulation.

The LLS, with an office in Madison Heights, funds blood cancer research around the world, provides information and support services, and helps blood cancer patients with access to quality and affordable care. The mission of the LLS is to cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma and to improve the quality of life of patients and their families.

According to a fact sheet from Light The Night Campaign Manager Anne Bradley, almost 80% of each dollar raised from the annual benefits cancer research and patient support. The fact sheet states a person in the U.S is diagnosed with a blood cancer approximately every 3 minutes, and every 9 minutes, a patient loses their battle with blood cancer.

Survival rates for leukemia have increased from 5% in the 1940s to over 90% today. The LLS has funded 51 of the 58 new cancer therapies approved by the FDA since 2017, according to the fact sheet.

Melissa and Curtis Crowe and their son Gabe, of Harrison Township, have received support from the LLS. Gabe, who turns 3 this December, was diagnosed with infant acute lymphoblastic leukemia when he was 9 months old.

“The staff is amazing. They check on us to see that we are doing all right, especially if they know something … hard is happening,” Melissa Crowe said of the LLS. “They help us to network with other families.”

The Crowes, along with about 60 family members and friends, participated in Light The Night last year at Hart Plaza, which raised $6,000.

“We had a ton of people come out,” Melissa Crowe said. “It was such an amazing event.”

Their team, Gabriel’s Gladiators, is back for this year’s virtual event. Information about Gabriel’s Gladiators can be found on its Facebook page. The team members plan to walk at Lake St. Clair Metropark in Harrison Township with lanterns to acknowledge Light The Night.

“We’re hoping to do a loop by the lake,” said Melissa Crowe.

Prior to Gabe’s diagnosis, his parents noticed a large lesion on his shoulder. He also regressed in his crawling and eating and was often lethargic. After testing was done, a diagnosis of infant acute lymphoblastic leukemia was confirmed. Because of a gene mutation, Gabe is resistant to chemotherapy, which is most often used to treat cancer. He’s been hospitalized many times in the past two years.

Gabe is currently receiving monthly immunotherapy infusions in place of chemotherapy.  Since his diagnosis, Gabe has been deemed terminal twice, but he continues to beat the odds.

“Everyone is flabbergasted about how well he’s doing,” Melissa Crowe said. “I think the hardest thing for us is the uncertainty. We don’t know what’s going to happen. Our family is incredibly supportive, also our church family. Everyone has really rallied around us, which is great. We have a strong faith in God. We’re just trying to live every day, and we’re just happy to love him.”