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Leukemia walk shines light on father-daughter's special connection

courtesy of Brianna Blank

Emotions often run high during the annual Light the Night Walk at Delaware Park as thousands gather to acknowledge those who have been touched by leukemia. Those feelings will be shared by David and Brianna Blank, the father and daughter who have both been diagnosed with the disease.

"When I was three-and-half years old, I was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia," recalled Brianna Blank, who endured 22 months of treatment before the disease went into remission. 

"I am currently 18 years cancer free."

The elation of that good news faded in recent years when her father, David Blank, was diagnosed with leukemia. In October, 2014, the bone marrow of 18-year-old girl in Poland was transplanted into his body.

"Her bone marrow has taken to my body, but what my body is doing now is fighting her DNA," David Blank explained.

"I have a lot of side effects. It's not fun side effects. It's limited my ability to perform a lot of things I used to do," he said. Those activities would include his work leading the North Boston Fire Company.

David Blank, now walking with a cane, plans to attend Friday's Light the Night Walk at Delaware Park.

"Having two of us in the same family (with leukemia) has taxed our resources drastically," he acknowledged, while thanking the Leukemia Society for its assistance.

"I'm not saying they pay for everything, but they help out greatly in the support and that's huge when you're sick."

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Jay joined Buffalo Toronto Public Media in 2008 and has been local host for NPR's "Morning Edition" ever since. In June, 2022, he was named one of the co-hosts of WBFO's "Buffalo, What's Next."

A graduate of St. Mary's of the Lake School, St. Francis High School and Buffalo State College, Jay has worked most of his professional career in Buffalo. Outside of public media, he continues in longstanding roles as the public address announcer for the Buffalo Sabres of the National Hockey League and as play-by-play voice of Canisius College basketball.