My Fundraising Page

My Fundraising Page
Oct 17, 2017

This story belongs to every cancer survivor, who has battled through a nightmare to see today for all it's worth. It belongs to courageous fighters, whose young lives were taken by blood cancers. It belongs to the countless other lives affected by these horrific diseases for which I believe a cure will be found. This story also belongs to those of you who believe that it is possible to make a difference.


My story begins in 1997, when my 16-year-old cousin, Lauren, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. At the young age of eight years old, it was difficult for me to understand the true horrors of cancer treatment, not to mention cancer itself. What I did understand was that my family was scared for my cousin’s life. I understood the excitement we shared when Lauren completed her treatment and her hair began to grow back. I understood that this was a true triumph, and that not every family was as lucky as we were.


Our family's strength was soon tested again. On a late July afternoon in 1998, my sisters and I tried to be brave as our parents explained to us that our eleven-year-old brother, Ryan, had been diagnosed with T-cell ALL. My amazing big brother would have to focus his energy on the battle for his life. Our lives haven't been the same since.


Me and Ryan

c. 1996


My family celebrated Ryan’s 13th birthday in September, 1999. After a traditional birthday dinner, we took a short trip into DC, where we saw the very first LLS Light the Night Walk in the area. This walk is an annual evening celebration of fundraising, during which walkers carry illuminated balloons. Ryan had already spent more than a year courageously facing grueling treatment, a relapse, and many life-threatening side effects. Our family had not raised any money for the Walk, nor did we belong to any team; still, when we walked up to the LLS staff to ask if there were any balloons left, the volunteer handed the very last balloon to Ryan.


The Walk, only from Union Station to the Capitol, seemed to drain all of Ryan’s remaining energy…but he kept walking. He firmly held his balloon, and looked straight ahead with the same determined expression I often saw when he was preparing to score a hockey goal. That day, Ryan led me on what became one of our most important adventures. He was amazed that all of these people were out there fighting for him and the other patients.


That powerful evening was Ryan’s last birthday celebration with our family. The following December, days before I turned eleven, my incredible brother was taken from us. He lost his life, I lost my hero, and my parents lost their only son to leukemia. As our own way of continuing Ryan’s fight, my sisters and I created a Light the Night Team called “The Young Hearts.” Over the last eighteen years, The Young Hearts have shown relentless dedication to the mission.


On October 21, 2017, I will participate in my 18th Light The Night Walk in DC.

I will carry a gold lantern, in memory of Ryan.


I have witnessed and felt the tragedies of losing a sibling, a friend, and a role model too many times. This is why I believe in this cause, and I am certain a cure cannot come soon enough.


Over eighteen years have passed since we lost Ryan. I miss him every day. We continue to fundraise and walk for those still fighting – with the hope that, one day, no one will have to experience the heartbreak of losing a sibling, a friend, or a hero.


Please help create a brighter future for all of those affected by blood cancers. With your support, we can write a miraculous story. Thank you for your support.


Supporter Comments

    "This is such a great cause! You and your family are so amazing in all you do for it! Love, Doug, Keisha, Maddox, and Owen Buzbee"

    The Buzbee Family

    Tue Oct 17 11:36:13 EDT 2017

    "Thanks for your continuous support and passion for not only our actual office, but this mission in general! You're amazing, Mary!"

    Sasha Rocke

    Tue Oct 17 11:44:53 EDT 2017

    "So proud of you and everything you and your family have accomplished in support of those affected by blood cancers. You and the Young Hearts will be in our thoughts this Saturday night <3 "

    Meagan & Peter

    Tue Oct 17 03:08:08 EDT 2017

    "In my many years of involvement with the LLS, no one inspired me more that the McLaughlin family and the Young Hearts. You are a hero to many, Mary. "

    Michelle Galvanek

    Wed Oct 18 11:18:26 EDT 2017

    "Why Barbara and I donate? Because we were taught by Ryan and his family that we can make a difference. Love, Barb and Chip"

    Barbara and Chip Gertzog

    Thu Oct 19 11:40:06 EDT 2017

    "Keep up the great work. What you are doing is an inspiration to all of us!"

    Laurence Kirsch

    Fri Dec 22 02:49:43 EST 2017

My Fundraising Total

Raised: $2,021.33 | Goal: $1,010.00
200 %

My Team

Team Total: $55,562.23 | Goal: $50,000.00

Make a Donation

We are sorry donations are no longer being accepted for this participant for this event.

My Thanks To

Laurence Kirsch $1000.00
Barbara and Chip Gertzog $500.00
Michelle Galvanek $100.00
The proud M-in-L $100.00
Moira Lee $50.00
Randy and Carolyn $30.00
Meagan & Peter $30.00
The Buzbee Family $30.00
Jenny Holmgrain $25.00
Sasha Rocke $25.00
MJ $20.00
Grouping INC $10.00