IT is a gold lantern that Ashlee Browell will hold aloft at Lake Weeroona on Friday when she takes part in a fundraising walk for blood cancer research.
Light the Night recipients who have received their own leukaemia diagnosis will bear white lanterns and supporters will carry blue ones, but a golden lantern denotes someone who has lost a loved one to the disease.
For Ms Browell, who is one of the organisers of this year’s event, it is her father, Colin, she will honour.
The two-time Melbourne Cup jockey died in 2012, three days before his 34th birthday, after a lengthy battle with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.
It is a cancer typically detected in children.
The athlete withstood radiation treatment and bone marrow transplants donated by his sister, Julie, before eventually losing his battle with the disease.
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She might have been just nine years old when her father was diagnosed but Ms Browell still remembers the time clearly.
While her parents stayed in Melbourne to seek treatment, she and her brother lived with family members in Bendigo.
The pair would leave school early every Friday to be by Colin’s bedside, showing him videos of their horses or their sports achievements.
Asked how she would remember her dad, Ms Browell answered: “strong, determined and willing to fight”.
This year marks the third time a Light the Night event was held in Bendigo. Similar walks are slated for 140 locations around Australia. The two previous outings raised nearly $30,000 for the Leukaemia Foundation.
But for Ms Browell, the final tally was not as important as the connections made between people with lived experiences of blood cancer.
“It’s all about coming together and connecting, being there for the same reasons and supporting people who’ve been through a similar thing as you,” she said.
She described the atmosphere at Lake Weeroona during the memorial walk as “magical”.
“Seeing all the lanterns lit up at that time is just beautiful.”
Light the Night begins at 6pm on Friday.