"You stop and think, 'I identified somebody with leukemia today.' Somehow you feel a connection to them."

Support Shines Brightly from AASU

The Light the Night event at Forsyth Park attracted a couple of hundred spirited supporters from the AASU community. Campus involvement has been growing over the years for the annual fundraiser in support of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Last year, university students, faculty and staff helped raised $19,800.

The number for this year is still being tallied as some upcoming campus events—a Haunted House on Halloween, for instance—will contribute to the total.

Michelle Butina, assistant professor of medical technology, teaches about leukemia and has seen campus participation grow significantly over the years. AASU first got involved in 2005 with a handful of faculty and students from the College of Health Professions.

The October event attracted AASU Pirates from many different areas, including athletics, the College of Education, College of Health Professions, Housing and Residential Life and several other campus and student organizations. AASU's President Linda Bleicken was among the supporters.

"It is a very emotional night and students get pulled into it," said Butina, who as a medical technologist, has had experience discovering the initial telltale signs of blood cancer while screening blood samples from patients.

"You stop and think, 'I identified somebody with leukemia today.' Somehow you feel a connection to them."

In recent years, the AASU campus saw one of its own succumb to leukemia. Kenny Reeves, a community assistant for Compass Point and a health and physical education major passed away in 2007. His death seemed to have united the campus in a community-wide effort to help in the fight against blood cancers.

Kenny's family attended the event carrying gold balloons, signifying fallen heroes. White balloons represented survivors, while red balloons — the vast majority at the park that night—represented supporters of those currently battling blood cancers.