As the leader in peer-to-peer fundraising for almost 70 years, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) continues to find ways to reinvent the way health charities raise vital funds for research and patient support. After pioneering non-profit sports training with Team In Training, LLS turned the traditional walk into a community experience with Light The Night. And, the organization is doing it again with a unique take on raising big bucks for cancer research and treatment with the Man & Woman of the Year (MWOY) campaign.
Hundreds of dedicated men and women vie for the coveted title in an intense 10-week competition to raise significant funds, which LLS invests in cutting-edge research to advance lifesaving cures for this country's 1.3 million blood cancer patients.
For the 2017 Man & Woman of the Year campaign, more than 900 driven community leaders volunteered their time and energy to compete for the national title. These passionate competitors together raised a record-breaking $45.5 million for LLS. Since it began in 1990, Man & Woman of the Year has raised $266 million and helped LLS invest more than $1 billion in research to cure blood cancers.
This year's national winners are Scott Peterson of The Specialized Marketing Group, Inc., in Charlotte, NC, and Jessica Paulen Goldich of New Image Dental Laboratory in Atlanta, GA, who raised $378,287 and $337,209, respectively.
According to LLS President and CEO, Louis J. DeGennaro, Ph.D., "The 918 candidates who competed in this year's Man & Woman of the Year campaign are demonstrating that individuals can have an impact on a disease as overwhelming as cancer. Driven by their desire to find cures and to reach their own personal fundraising best, they are making more of an impact on cancer in 10 weeks than others do in a lifetime. These dedicated volunteers are helping LLS save lives."
The funds raised through Man & Woman of the Year are used by LLS for:
- New research approaches including precision medicine and immunotherapies that are saving lives today;
- Timely information and support for newly diagnosed blood cancer patients and families;
- Advocacy efforts on Capitol Hill for laws and policies to enable patients to access lifesaving treatments and cures.
"We are seeing the impact of this campaign in real time," said DeGennaro. "Two new lifesaving blood cancer drugs were approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration in March and April of this year, around the same time we kicked off the 2017 Man & Woman of the Year campaign. Funds raised through campaigns such as Man & Woman of the Year help create these lifesaving treatments."
The 2017 Man & Woman of the Year Winners
Scott Peterson is a marketing director and oversees the motorsports division at The Specialized Marketing Group, Inc in Charlotte, NC, and received a lot of support from his motorsport network. He celebrated 10 years in remission from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma this year, and named his campaign, "Team Remission 10" in celebration. His groundbreaking campaign beat the current NC state record.
Jessica Paulen Goldich is the vice president of operations at New Image Dental Laboratory. She ran for Woman of the Year in memory of her stepmother, Shelley Paulen, who lost her battle to multiple myeloma in 2014. Goldich spearheaded her campaign, "Team ShellBell" to the top through a wide range of fundraising activities. She now holds the top fundraiser title across all Georgia Chapter campaigns.
The runners-up were Luke Jaindl of Jaindl Farms/A-Treat Soda, and Jessica Johnson of FPL Energy Services — they raised $329,806 and $295,675, respectively. The Man & Woman of the Year "All Star" winners were Richard Ojeda of Black Tie Affairs Catering, Inc., and Brianna Haag of BCH Events. Collectively, they raised close to $350,000. The All Star program is a group of alumni who represent their local campaign nationally.
A winning formula
Man & Woman of the Year extended its impact this year by establishing a new innovative take on peer-to-peer fundraising through Students of the Year — a campaign that mobilized more than 400 motivated high school students across the country to raise an astounding $6 million in its inaugural year. Ella Behnkeis a 16-year-old from San Antonio, TX who earned the winning title, "National Student of the Year," raising more than $334,768 for cancer cures.