Turning a Lost Battle Positive (+)

BY JARED RODRIGUEZ

Kerry Kelemen continues her fight against leukemia through her friends, loved ones, and those she taught to “Be +.”

On Sunday, August 5, 2012, Kerry Kelemen will receive tribute from the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) at its annual Rockland County Light the Night Walk Kickoff Party at Rockland Boulders Stadium in Pomona, NY from 1 until 3 p.m. Laurie Walser of Nyack is an honored AML survivor, who will also receive tribute at the event. Laurie beat the disease in April 2010 and remains in remission.

While she was with us, Kerry Kelemen made it her goal to help others. Raised in Thiells and a 2004 graduate of North Rockland High School, she studied at Northeastern University and received a degree in Deaf Studies and American Sign Language. She went on to work closely with deaf-blind individuals.

Soon after settling into her post-graduate life, Kerry was sent for blood work after a small infection would not respond to antibiotics. In May 2010, the day before her 24th birthday, Kerry learned that she had Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML). She soon learned her blood type was B+, taking that as a sign to “be positive” in the face of adversity.

As she started a blog to document her journey, and a Facebook page called “Dropkick Cancer” to keep her followers updated with new information, her motto became contagious. Her facebook page soon had over 7,000 followers from around the world spreading her story. She wrote with passion and substance, eliciting a strong sense of solidarity from all those who read and listened.

Even before her battle with leukemia, Kerry had always had a distinctive style of her own and stood out in most crowds. With her new platform, she used her larger-than-life persona to inspire thousands of friends and well-wishers to make the best of life as it comes.

Within months, Kerry’s favorite band the Dropkick Murphys learned of her struggle, and that they were partly the namesake of her Facebook page, and decided to hold a private concert beside her hospital bed at Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

Kerry met her husband, Damian Curran, at a Dropkick Murphys concert years earlier. The couple was married months before Kerry lost her battle to AML, emblematic of Kerry’s desire to move forward no matter the hardship.

On July 10, 2011, Kerry’s fight came to a peaceful end, yet her powerful message continues to spread as strongly as ever.

To RSVP for the Light the Night kickoff party on August 5, please call 914-821-8267. Attendees are welcome to stay for the 5 p.m. Rockland Boulders baseball game, free of charge. Nationally, Light the Night raised $50 million in 2011. The 2012 Light the Night Walk occurs on Sunday, October 21, 2012 at Nyack Memorial Park. Registration for this year’s Light the Night Walk is now open at www.lightthenight.org/wch.