The Silicon Valley Light the Night walk received a revamping this year after changing locations to the spacious Avaya Stadium, spearheading the change and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Societies Silicon Valley and Monterey branch is Courtney Karnes. Courtney has worked with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society or LLS for just over 12 years. After leaving for college, the born and raised native returned to the Bay Area where she currently resides helping the community.

How long have you lived/worked in the Bay Area?

Born and Raised in the Bay Area. I left for a little bit to attend college in UC Davis but happily returned.

What are some of your favorite parts about living in the Bay Area?

It’s such a great place to live. I love the innovation that’s here. I love the fact that pretty much anything is possible, that’s how we approach our work with the LLS as well. You also can’t beat the weather, it’s just amazing and there’s a whole lot of opportunity within the area.

If you could change one thing about San Jose, what would it be?

There’s a lot of talk about traffic here, I would give us more public transportation options. It’s also a pretty expensive area to live. I think about my kids and where they are going to live when they are older and supporting themselves and I would like them to able to afford to stay close.

What Silicon Valley event do you most look forward to every year?

This year I’m really looking forward to the new Light the Night event at Avaya Stadium. We’ve been totally revamping it all last year. I honestly cannot wait for this event to be here.

What new additions to the event can attendees look forward to?

The spirit of the walk hasn’t changed it’s still all about bringing light to the world of cancer. We are looking to enhance the experience for everyone involved from corporate partners, to patients and volunteers. Thanks to the stadium, the Light-The-Late-Night event will utilize the famous outdoor bar and there will be a visual show on the field for all participants to enjoy.

We have our very own app this year so participants can engage directly with us. We are very social media focused this year. We will also have a local celebrity, they are known nationally but live locally! I can’t tell you who it is though!

What do you like most about Silicon Valley?

I love the innovation, it inspires me. I love the type of people that come from all over and the new ideas that everyone brings. That keeps me wanting to keep doing and improving what I do.

What are some of your favorite events in San Jose?

I love all the farmer’s markets, just south of first street, and the activities they have there. Music in the Park is something I have always loved, they always manage to get great bands. Anything happening at San Pedro Market even if there isn’t an event, it’s just a great place to hangout.

What is the The Light The Night Walk event?

It’s a community walk that raises awareness and fun for the LLS supporting patients and their families. LLS has raised over a billion dollars to support this cause. Every dollar that is raised goes back to supporting the mission.

The walk is just under a mile, with a lot of other engagement activities. Corporations and community members come from all over to come together and celebrate and further the mission. All of our walkers carry illuminated lanterns, which makes it visually spectacular. The three different colors represent the different ways cancer has effected the walker; red lanterns represent those supporting patients and finding cures, white lanterns represent patients who have been affected by any type of cancer, and gold is for those walking in remembrance of someone they lost.

What is your favorite thing about the walk?

My favorite thing, visually I find it to be an amazing experience and this year with the lanterns lighting up Avaya Stadium. I think will be especially powerful. I think it’s amazing that all these people come out to support this cause and I love that corporations and neighborhoods come together as one to support this mission.

How did the partnerships with the Earthquakes come about?

The San Jose Earthquakes have been supporters for quite some time. They have had their own team participate in the walk for the past couple years. It’s a cause that is very near to them. They have a former player who has been diagnosed, and their VP of Marketing is a survivor. They actually approached us with the idea to use the stadium. We thought what better place than the stadium to revamp our event and really tie in all their new technology. We have the support of the President of the Earthquakes, Dave Kaval, and he’s just been an amazing help. They treat us as apart of their team.

How can the community help?

There are many ways the community can get involved. They can register to support the walk and raise awareness. Avaya Stadium holds 18,000 people my wish is to fill it up one day. I want as many people to come out and support as possible. We still need volunteers to come out and help put this event on as well.

The dollars that the LLS raises wouldn’t be possible without people who care, and it’s not possible without our amazing supporters and volunteers. I’m so grateful to everyone who helps out. Thanks and appreciation to the community who supports us with utmost gratitude.

Click here to find out more information about how to volunteer.