Friday, October 2, 2009

Light the Night

Press play and see an amazing video compilation of pictures created by our on-the-ball friend Nicki Winger who stayed up late to create this for you. So all of you from out of town can feel like you were there. The song is a favorite of Ally' is sung by the girl who plays iCarly. It is called It's Raining Sunshine...and it sort of was tonight. The support was incredible.

Thank you, thank you, thank you. Tonight was our Light the Night Walk. We had over 400 people there to support us. It was truly the most magnificent sight, to look out over the masses of people and see ORANGE. I can't even adequately describe how much orange was there. Ally's Army shirts were everywhere. There were so many Army members there that I didn't even get to see everybody. It was very touching to look out in front of me at all the walkers, as far as I could see, people carrying their red balloons that lit up at night. And to think that each person there was carrying a balloon to support someone who is fighting a blood cancer. It is amazing. And then I turn around and I see my girl. My child. My Ally. And she is carrying a lit up white balloon. Because she is a SURVIVOR. I still tremble at the thought that my baby girl is a cancer survivor.

Ally did great all night. Everyone kept saying "you are famous, a celebrity" She was even signing people's shirts with her name. Great trend! She rode in the wagon most of the way, until her wagon actually broke down. And then she walked! And she was tired by the end, but she did great. All of this after going to school all day.

We had a great tent filled with friends and family working for me. Thank you Jenny Robbins, Jessica, Kati, Tara, Laura Sears, Nicki, Suzanne, The Brower family and anyone else that was helping out that I didn't know about. There was so much to do. And people just kept throwing donations at our tent. Which brings me to the other aspect of this....I am thinking that with tonight's collections we could actually get close to $40,000. It is unbelievable. The largest team ever, the largest donation ever....and we even beat the largest teams in Cincinnati (where they have 6000 walkers) and Mason and quite possibly all of Ohio too. Their largest fundraiser was a corporate one and they were at $26,000. We will see where we fall in the national rankings. But as Jerad would say, we knocked it out of the park.

I will share more stories and pictures over the next couple of days. Thanks to everyone who took pictures and those people that are emailing them to me. I will post more, I promise. For now, I am just a little too tired and emotionally worn out. And we have to be at the hospital bright and early in the morning for another round of chemo.

As the top fundraiser, I was able to do a little speech to the crowd. Again, for those of you who were not there or could not hear me....this is what I said. A few cracks in the voice, a little bit of crying, but I did manage to say what I wanted to say. Here it is:

When our daughter Ally was diagnosed with Leukemia back in May, we were understandably devastated. Within days of her diagnosis, someone at Children’s hospital mentioned this Light the Night Walk to me. The wheels in my mind began to turn and I thought it would be the perfect way to honor my daughter. Little did I know that on this beautiful October night I would be the leader of 400 people called Ally’s Army. We are the largest single team to ever walk in Dayton. It is overwhelming. It is tremendous. And our seven year old girl is happy to have you all here. She may not understand today exactly how many people are here. But part of the reason we did this is so that someday, when she BEATS this terrible disease, she will know that she had hundreds of people walking through the trenches with her. Not just today, but everyday. In her school, in her neighborhood, at her doctor’s office, her family, her friends, and the people who don’t even know her that are praying for her recovery.

And it is one my proudest moments of my life to say that our team raised $35,000 (maybe more) for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. And we did not have one big corporate sponsor …it was truly a grassroots campaign. I did not raise this money…but each and every person here did it. I can never EVER express my gratitude. So Thank you. Thank you . Thank you.

I wanted to say one more thing: tonight as we walk together, there is one very important person that is not walking. My mom. Ally’s Ma. I know she walks with us through this journey everyday in our hearts. I know she is watching over us. And tonight, she is going to have quite a view from above of all of these red balloons here walking for her granddaughter. We will beat this disease. TOGETHER.


  1. I love the video! What a great and emotional night. So amazing to see all those who love Ally so much. Hard to believe a little girl can be an inspiration to so many...even though there was a little rain, it was a beautiful night. Janel, great job on your speech :)

  2. Janel, last night was amazing! You did a fabulous job speaking & I was wise to pack kleenex :-) Hogan, Spencer & I had such an experience at the walk I feel I should be thanking you for letting us be a part of it. They both proudly wear their shirts to school today. We are thinking of all of you this weekend. ~ Kim

  3. Janel, Jerad, Ally, family and friends;
    What a night!
    Last night was more than I could imagine. Seeing all the Ally's Army tee shirts and the blinking balloons. Amazing. I was a magical night.
    Talked to Ally last night and she was doing great. We have a great photo with the Sister's Team. She signed all of our shirts!
    I get our photos to you soon. May the love of last night ease the upcoming hospital stay. Hugs and Love Mary

  4. As I sit here crying at my computer at the amazing video, I am so grateful that I got to be a part of such an amazing night last night. I cried during your heartfelt speech last night and I cried when I read it in print this morning. You were wonderful - and the words touched my heart. It was just unbelievable to see all of those orange shirts walking as one unit - ALLY's ARMY!! I had goosebumps the entire walk when you could look around the pond and see all of the red, white and gold balloons lighting the pathway. What an inspiration you and Ally are - your family is walking though this fight together and each step only makes you stronger - together. You will be in my thoughts this weekend and praying that the weekend goes quickly and that Ally keeps that beautiful smile throughout it. Take care. Sheri Cobler

  5. AMAZING. I'm watching this with tears streaming down my face, during breakfast. My kids keep asking me to play the video again! AMAZING!

  6. It was an incredible privilege to be part of that WALK last night. You all have to just feel overwhelmed with love and support. It was a beautiful event that I hope to participate in every year. And of course, your speech was wonderful and so heartfelt. You made EVERYONE proud, including and most definitely, your mom. I am a proud and inspired member of the Army!
    Praying for this weekend - here if you need me. TONS OF LOVE...

  7. YOU ALL ROCK! thanks for the video. It makes me so happy to see all of the support. i hope today and this weekend goes quickly for all of you. You are right, together we will beat this disease. Congratulations on a fantastic effort.

  8. Wow...I'm sitting here in tears. I could not make the walk, but to read about it here and see the video is truly touching. What an inspiration you all are!

  9. All I can keep thinking is amazing, amazing, amazing - so emotional, even watching the video again - she is such a loved girl and you are such a loved family! It was so very present last night!

  10. What an incredible night! Just getting back to MI last night and reading today, it's amazing to relive that event! Glad to see that Nicki made it in at least one picture! We are all so blessed that you have her in your life.

  11. so happy that we could be a part of it. thank you for letting us into your life. the night was truly magical.