I’m making progress with my Light The Night fundraising:

I sent out about 15 e-mails last night to hopefully bring in more donations – I got an additional $60 today! I haven’t heard back from everyone yet. I know that not everyone will donate, and I’m completely OK with that. I don’t ever want to push my family and friends into giving money, but it’s not like it’s coming to me…it’s going to a great cause.

So I’m baking some banana crunch muffins and some blueberry muffins for a bit of a bake sale. My mother-in-law is helping me sell them. I feel funny selling them at work since I work for a non-profit agency. Food is such a great motivator for people. It’s horrible, but why not take advantage of this?

Things are different this year. Last year I attended the informational meeting just 5 short days before my aunt died. We were really motivated because the loss was still so fresh. This year, while still motivated, things feel much more distant. Every once in a while I open up my web page and I look at her picture – somehow it brings back that flood of memories and emotions. I know I’m raising this money for those fighting blood cancer, but deep down I do it for her. I do it for all the crap she went through.


I just realized that the Light The Night walk is only a couple of months away and I really need to get my act together and continue to raise money. I set a lofty goal of $500 and right now I have raised $100. What I could really use help with is brainstorming some creative ideas of how to raise more money. Last year I held a mini bake sale at out garage sale and did quite well. Unfortunately, I work for a non-profit agency and can’t really raise money since my position there is in fundraising and all of that money goes directly to our programs. My husband works for a small company, so that doesn’t really work either.

My mom and sister are working together to host a book sale, with all the proceeds going to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Does anyone have any creative ways that I can raise more money for our team?

To check on my progress, please see my web site:

I received a letter from the Iowa Chapter of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society informing me that the 2007 Light The Night Walk in Dubuque has been cancelled. HOWEVER, they moved the event to downtown Davenport, Iowa and the new date is October 6th – this gives me and my team an extra month to raise money. There is an entire confusing story about the whole Dubuque versus Davenport walk site, but I’m not even going to get into it. I’m just happy they’re still having a walk (especially one that is much closer to where I live).

If anyone is interested in donating and/or walking, please let me know or visit my web site:

This is the first of many times I plan to post this message – a plea of sorts. On September 8th my family and I once again will participate in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Light The Night Walk. We will be walking in memory of my aunt. She was an amazing woman – funny, intelligent, sarcastic, warm, generous – I could go on and on. But in the end, in the face of adversity, she was strong…and courageous…and brave.

At last year’s walk, my mom asked me to write the dedication – she didn’t think she could do it herself. Here is what I wrote:

We dedicate this walk and this night to Mary Lou Altom.

– A kind and generous soul
– A warm heart
– A fighting spirit

We are so proud of your strength, your courage, and your ability to have fought this disease with a sense of humor. We love you and we miss you more and more with each passing day.

We would walk a million miles just to have you back.

All our love,
Donna, Mike, and “The Girls” (Kristie & Tracy)

I am seeking donations to help support the Society’s mission – Cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families. Please visit my personal web page to see how you can help –

Last year our team walked in memory of my aunt – we came in second place for the most money raised in the Quad Cities Walk. This year, we’re shooting for first place!

More information to come…

The results are in and our Light The Night Team – Mary Lou’s Cardinal Crew – came in 2nd Place in raising money for the Quad Cities Walk! Just a side note, but the “winning” team had about 20 walkers participating, while our team only had 4. By my calculations, they only averaged $240 per walker, whereas we averaged $378. So, even though this is NOT about competition, we won. We rock.

Just wait until next year…

Saturday evening was the Light The Night Walk which supported the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. I walked with my team – my mom, dad, and sister. It was a beautiful evening with the most perfect weather. It was a wonderful night because our team was able to raise over $1500, but it also was an emotional night – not even four months since she passed away. We were surrounded by all things cancer, so it was hard.

I got into bed last night and cried. I sobbed. I haven’t done that since the day she died. I attended my stepson’s baseball game – mostly to get my mind on something better than death. I only stayed for 30 minutes. I drove the short distance back home and as I pulled in the driveway I realized that I could no longer hold back the tears. I sobbed as I sat in the garage – fearful that the neighbor boy from across the street would stop by to say hi.

Last night was different. I wasn’t sobbing because I had just lost someone I loved so much. I cried because all of the Light The Night prep work was over. I signed up for the walk just 5 days before she died. Ever since then my focus has been on organizing my team and raising money. Last night came the realization that it was over. The realization that now I needed to face the loss. Face the grief that I stuffed down inside me.

I am afraid to grieve – afraid that if I start crying I won’t be able to stop. All I can think about was what my mom said to me the day before my aunt died, when we knew the end was near: “It’s so sad. I’m just so sad.”

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