Sanjanaa Arunagiri

Sanjanaa Arunagiri

Aurora ON

Lean Towards the Light

The first time I learned about leukemia dates back to 2014 when I was in sixth grade. One of my teachers informed us that our classmate, Owen Wong, passed away from battling leukemia. My heart shattered. We were so young and he was extremely well-liked by everyone who knew him. His passing was something that never quite left my mind.

Years later, I found out about a club in my high school that participated in an annual event called Light the Night. Upon learning that the organization running the event was The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada, I immediately joined. I felt that this was an opportunity to create positive change in honour of Owen and the millions of individuals who have lost their lives battling leukemia and lymphoma. The group of students who participate from my school every year is called Sarah’s Stars. Our team name is in memory of Sarah Watkin, who was the daughter of one of our school teachers, Mr. Watkin.

Since then I participated in the Light the Night Walk for 2 years. Every year going downtown, receiving our lanterns and lighting the streets of Toronto was an unforgettable experience. We were surrounded by friends and families sharing the same passion to raise awareness about blood cancers. One of the most moving moments from the walk is passing SickKids hospital and seeing all the children and families looking at us through the windows. The walk with the lanterns is a symbol of strength and unity as well as a tribute to the loved ones we’ve lost.

This year, I was extremely saddened by the fact that the Light the Night Walk would not be happening due to COVID-19. However, when I found out that there was a virtual event, I knew something could be done. With the help of my friend, we were able to create a team to fundraise virtually. We created a Lemons for Leukemia online challenge and were able to raise hundreds of dollars. We received lanterns and were able to watch the livestream all together. Although it wasn’t the traditional circumstances, watching the livestream was gratifying and made me feel incredible.

Light the Night is such a worthy organization that truly changes the lives of so many people. It was such an amazing experience and I am forever inspired by the change we were able to create together. I will be graduating from high school this year, but I will certainly continue to contribute to Light the Night and I hope that younger students from my school will continue this meaningful tradition.


Do you have a story to tell?

As a supporter, in memory, or as a survivor… share with others why you are helping end blood cancers by participating in a Light the Night Walk