Lanterns light up lake

By Ashlea Witoslawski

Victoria Park Lake lit up on Friday night, as community members showed their support for Shepparton’s Light the Night event.

Light the Night raises much-needed funds and awareness for the Leukaemia Foundation, by encouraging Australians to join events organised across the country with their lanterns and transform the darkness into a sea of glowing light to beat blood cancer.

This year’s Shepparton event was organised by Light the Night community hosts Brett and Alistair Hand.

Alistair said the event had been a huge success, with a seemingly bigger crowd than last year.

He also said they sold out of yellow lanterns, which was a positive for fundraising efforts.

Each registered participant is given a coloured lantern in accordance to their experiences with blood cancer.

Gold is to remember loved ones lost to blood cancer, white is for a person’s own blood cancer journey and blue is to show community support for all those affected.

The night started off with music and food at the north end of Shepparton’s Victoria Park Lake before a welcome from Brett, who thanked those who helped organise the event and the community for their support.

‘‘Every lantern here tonight represents a real story of courage and hope,’’ Brett said.

Shepparton woman Kristy Goulopoulos shared her blood cancer story, leaving not a dry eye in the audience.

At 18 years old, Mrs Goulopoulos was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukaemia and found out she had been living with the cancer for at least a year.

Unfortunately, doctors had not picked up on her symptoms earlier.

‘‘It took a long time to build a lot of trust again with doctors,’’ she said.

She thanked the support of the Leukaemia Foundation, which provided fuel vouchers and accommodation for her family as well as a social worker to support her in this new journey.

In May, she celebrated her 10-year ‘‘Cancerversary’’.

‘‘After 10 years, I still have bad days, but I fill my days with lots of humour and laughter,’’ she said.

‘‘It was hard sharing my story and going through the whole lot because you picture the moments in your head and you get upset.

‘‘I say to everyone now if you’re not 100 per cent confident, demand a blood test.’’

All participants completed a lap of the lake, creating a beautiful glowing light along the path.

Leukaemia Foundation blood cancer support co-ordinator Hume Katherine Treble said the event had been a fabulous success and praised the Hand family for their efforts.

‘‘It’s been a really supportive evening and we thank everyone for their support,’’ Ms Treble said.