Plainview’s Jodi Ekberg is giving local dog owners even more of reason to spend time with their furry companions. On Saturday, Sept. 17, she welcomes all to participate in the third annual Light the Night: A Dog Walk to Remember, an event where dog walking and charity merge to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS).
Ekberg conceived the idea to create the 1.2-mile dog walk to raise money for the LLS, an organization that funds research, medical procedures and treatment options for those suffering from leukemia and lymphoma, in collaboration with Nicole Tufano, another Plainview resident who lost her father to a rare form of leukemia in 2012.
“We met at a dog park and we both had huskies so we started bringing them together,” said Tufano regarding her first encounters with Ekberg. “My father got sick and was gone within four months, which was when she approached me with the idea for a benefit walk.”
The event has attracted much attention over the past two years, and Ekberg anticipates that both attendance and money raised will be even greater this time around. Last year’s walk gathered more than $5,500, but Ekberg and Tufano have hope that they can reach up to $10,000 this year with increased public awareness.
“We’ve been contacting radio stations and newspapers, using social media and roaming around the neighborhood by foot to try and get the word out to as many local people as possible,” said Ekberg. “We show up at everything we can and when you have four huskies with you, it tends to draw a crowd.”
All four of Ekberg’s huskies will be present at the walk, including Frankie, who is currently battling lymphoma for a second time.
Aside from the annual dog walk, Ekberg and Tufano make frequent contributions to the LLS and have made it their life’s work to highlight the prominence of leukemia and lymphoma, especially within the bounds of Long Island. The two aspire to see a day when leukemia and lymphoma earn the same level of attention as well-funded cancer research groups such as those dedicated to breast and ovarian cancer.
“Leukemia and lymphoma are so poorly funded because there’s not enough information out there,” said Ekberg. “Here on Long Island, rates are extremely high. The disease knows no barriers. It doesn’t care if you’re human or animal, rich or poor, male or female.”
As if the satisfaction of helping to save the lives of others wasn’t enough of an incentive to get involved in this year’s walk, there will be raffles, prizes, food from local vendors “and just a whole lot of fun,” according to Ekberg.
The walk begins at Farmingdale’s Village Green at 11 a.m. with a .6-mile stretch down Main Street. At this halfway point, dogs and their owners will be provided with water before they begin the rest of their trek back toward the starting point.
“Don’t hesitate to come by and do something to help humanity,” said Ekberg. “There’s no feeling as gratifying and heart-warming as knowing that you’re helping people to live. People who may not be able to without this help.”
For more information about the walk, email Jodi Ekberg at firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, visit www.lls.org.