Every 3 minutes someone is diagnosed with blood cancer, and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society has a mission to find cures and help patients.
The national nonprofit organization has made it their goal to cure Hodgkin’s disease, myeloma and lymphoma as well as leukemia, the No. 1 form of childhood cancer.
The society has invested more than $1.3 billion in research and also provides assistance for diagnosed patients. They have funded 44 of 50 FDA-approved treatments since 2017 and helped more than 30,000 families with expenses in 2019. The Man & Woman of the Year campaign is aimed at bolstering these funds and is about to kick off its third year in Sussex County March 5.
The campaign is a philanthropic competition among an array of communities nationwide. Candidates and their teams raise funds through events, ad sales, sponsorships and donations over a 10-week period. At the end of the campaign, the highest-earning man and woman win the title for Sussex County.
The campaign has raised $327 million nationwide since its first run in 1990.
“We know the people down here can really bring it,” said Brianna Hancin, the society’s Delaware campaign specialist. “We want to reach the blood cancer patients in the county. We’ve seen that the best way to reach them is through word of mouth, so that is what this campaign is.”
The six candidates for this year’s competition are Jeanine O’Donnell, Jessica Nathan, Heather Spencer, Robbin Thompson, Sarah Shoemaker and Scott Underkoffler.
“We look for people that are community leaders and philanthropic,” Hancin said. “You don’t have to have a connection to someone with blood cancer, but unfortunately, it’s not hard to find one. We look for people who want to do something bigger than themselves for the community and the greater good.”
Local businesses can contribute by selling donation markers, a red blood drop, signed by the donator.
“I want the county to see red,” said candidate Jeanine O’Donnell, speaking of the red drops. “I want to promote the organization and spread the word that there is help. What if it’s someone in your family that’s diagnosed next?”
In 2018, the Sussex County chapter of the campaign raised about $40,000 in 10 weeks. In 2019, the campaign was combined with the student of the year campaign, together raising $175,000.
The society provides significant support for patients in the way of support groups as well as funds to help with the cost of treatments, O’Donnell said. “Sure, it’s a competition, but it’s really about helping everybody and getting the word out.”
For more information on the campaign, contact any of the local candidates or visit lls.org.