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Businesses encouraged to join fight against cancer
Fundraiser slated for early October
1 Night WEB
Torri, left, and John Westmoreland encourage business owners to get involved in this falls Light the Night cancer fundraiser. - photo by Jennifer Sami

At a glance

The North Metro Light the Night Walk will begin at 5 p.m. Oct. 1 at the Cumming Fairgrounds. Individuals can participate by raising at least $100. Corporations can form teams, help sponsor or raise money for the event. For more information on how to help, call (877) LTN-WALK, (404) 720-7808, or visit www.lightthenight.org/ga.

John and Torri Westmoreland have been making signs for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Light the Night Walk in Atlanta for nine years.

The couple, owners of In-Depth Signs & Designs in Cumming, thought it was a great way to give back to the community.

While the society works to help those suffering from leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma, the Westmorelands always pictured the blood cancers impacting children.

Then John Westmoreland was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease.

“He was able to work all the way through treatments, and that is directly because of research that led doctors away from older, less effective and less tolerable options — research that was funded by LLS with funds that were raised by people like you,” Torri Westmoreland said July 27 at a kickoff breakfast.

Cancer free for more than a year, John Westmoreland works even harder to help LLS. The Westmorelands have become local leaders for the inaugural North Metro Light the Night Walk.

The event is planned for Oct. 1 at the Cumming Fairgrounds. Branching off the Atlanta walk in Centennial Olympic Park, the North Metro event is one of five walks in Georgia this fall.

During the kickoff breakfast, held at the Forsyth Conference Center at Lanier Tech, local businesses learned about more ways they can help reach the fundraising goal of $200,000.

Mary Martin Colston, Light the Night director, told businesses that participating in the walk can create goodwill, increase revenue and showcase their products.

“The walk builds a sense of team spirit and is a morale boost for your employees. And it helps build an even stronger corporate citizenship in this community,” she said. “But perhaps the greatest benefit of all is that you will know that you will be raising critically needed funds for cancer research.”

The two-mile walk encourages families and companies to walk together to remember, honor and celebrate loved ones. Walkers will carry balloons with blinking lights. Red balloons will be held by supporters, white balloons by patients and gold in memory of those who lost the fight.

Lynn Jackson, Northside Hospital-Forsyth administrator, said the walk isn’t about fitness. “When the sun goes down, the walk begins and the night sky will light up with these red, white and gold balloons … to honor cancer survivors and memorialize those that have lost their battle,” she said. “These thousands of balloons will hopefully light the way to a cancer cure.”

While the hospital is a main sponsor, other local businesses are getting involved, including Lenny’s Sub Shop.

Owner Bruce Longmore said he helped for the first time last year as a favor to his friends, the Westmorelands. He provided food donations for local teams. But after his first year, he was ready to up the ante.

“You get exposed to it and you see the good things that they’re doing and you see the success that John and Torri had last year — they raised something like $35,000. That was just shocking to me that they could put that together,” he said.

The Westmorelands have set a goal to raise $40,000 through their team, Stick it 2 Cancer. But for those getting started, even a quarter of that could be huge.

“We have more than 50 companies here this morning and we were sitting around last night doing the math on this,” John Westmoreland said. “If each of you set a goal at $10,000, we’d raise $500,000. Imagine what would happen if you told three friends and they each raised $10,000.”

“That’s $1.5 million for a cure coming right out of this room and your influence,” Torri Westmoreland added. “You are making a difference … you are the answer for curing cancer.”