Light the Night Walk goes on despite steady downpour
Zoey Johnson said her faith in God and the support of her family helped her to win her battle with leukemia when she was diagnosed at 14.
Five years later, Johnson, a 19-year-old Belle Vernon girl who is in remission, was sharing her story at the 14th annual Southwestern Pennsylvania Light the Night Walk on Saturday night in Uniontown High School. The event was moved indoors because of a steady downpour.
“I'm a Baptist and I was always taught that everything happens for a reason,” Johnson said. “When I was diagnosed with leukemia, I knew that I would live if God needed me to live. I also knew that I wouldn't make it if that was God's plan.
“God wanted me to live so I could help other children,” she added. “I have met a few friends who have been diagnosed with cancer. I believe I was put into their lives to help them get through it and to help find a cure for the disease.”
To fulfill that mission, Johnson plans to become a musical therapist. She wants to help other children suffering from cancer, as her musical therapist did for her when she was a patient at Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh.
“The musical therapist really helped me when I was in the hospital,” she said. “She would come into my room with a guitar and play songs that she thought I would like to hear. When I was upset, she would play songs that she thought would calm me down.”
A 2011 graduate of the Pennsylvania Virtual Charter School, Johnson is a sophomore at Community College of Allegheny County, where she is majoring in musical therapy.
When she was 14, Johnson said, she started to get colds every two weeks in September 2007. By spring of the following year, her illness progressed to pneumonia. She ended up in Washington Hospital and was then transferred to Children's Hospital.
“I didn't know what to think when I was diagnosed with cancer,” she said. “I asked my family, ‘Why are you crying? I will be OK.' ”
When she was undergoing chemotherapy, Johnson said, she would get very sick and wanted to give up.
“But I wouldn't let her give up,” said Lois Johnson, her grandmother who adopted Zoey when she was 8. Her biological mother is Beth Huseman of Smithfield.
“She is a real fighter, and we're very proud of her,” Lois Johnson said.
Chris Omiros, campaign coordinator, said 240 people registered for Light the Night.
“We will probably only have about 200 people here tonight because of the weather,” Omiros said. “We had some teams who moved away.”
Omiros said this year's goal is to raise $80,000 to help fund research to find a cure for blood cancers. Before the economic collapse, Omiros said, the event raised as much as $120,000.
“People will always come through and open up their wallets in hard times when help is needed the most.”
Cindy Ekas is a contributing writer.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Two cars strike horse near Fayette fair
- Letters won’t be used as evidence in North Union man’s homicide trial
- Turbine sites near properties in Fayette County threatened
- Connellsville churches combine festivals
- Connellsville residents continue to ‘Light the Way’ with special event Saturday
- Porterfield: Breakneck Church plans flea market, bake sale
- Ailing youngster has wish fulfilled in day with Masontown K-9 officer
- 3 men to stand trial over runaway Latrobe foster children
- Longtime Connellsville area business closes its doors
- Protection-from-abuse orders public again in Fayette
- Fayette Friends of Animals volunteer uses talent to help get her shelter animals adopted