Like many nonprofit organizations, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS), a global leader in the fight against cancer, is not immune to the damaging impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. But thousands of participants in nearly 100 communities across the country remain laser-focused on their pursuit of a world without blood cancer, taking on LLS’s 10-week philanthropic competition, Man & Woman of the Year®, by storm — even if it means pivoting to the world of virtual fundraising.
LLS announced today, Rich Pentz and Tina Swallow were awarded the prestigious titles, National Man of the Year and National Woman of the Year, and broke new local campaign records, raising $518,906 and $467,686 respectively. The campaign has helped LLS invest nearly $1.3 billion, ensuring that the organization continues to deliver its cancer curing mission and impact for patients, who need support now, more than ever.
The funds raised through Man & Woman of the Year are used for:
- Research to advance lifesaving therapies like immunotherapy, genomics and personalized medicine, which are saving lives today.
- Free blood cancer information, education and support for patients and families.
- National and local advocacy efforts driving policies that accelerate new treatments and ensure patients have access to care so that they can live longer, healthier lives.
“Cancer will not wait for COVID-19 to go away. And cancer patients can’t wait either,” said Louis J. DeGennaro, Ph.D., LLS president and CEO. “With the grit and determination of LLS supporters and volunteers like our Man & Woman of the Year candidates, LLS maintains a very significant, impactful mission agenda. We will continue to forge ahead relentlessly to find cures and help blood cancer patients access the care they need.”
Pentz, a senior director of institutional sales and relationship management at Principal Global Investors in Indianapolis, IN, spearheaded “Team Echo” after accepting his nomination in memory of his mother, Patricia, who lost her battle to acute myeloid leukemia six years ago. He leveraged social media and organized innovative fundraising tactics in lieu of his other event plans, which were canceled due to COVID-19. Pentz said he was “elated beyond words” to find out his campaign, which culminated on his mother’s birthday, June 20, broke a new fundraising record for Indiana. “It’s not about winning the title, it’s about the impact we’re making on the cancer landscape,” said Pentz.
Swallow, a 21-year Navy veteran and services director at Cisco in Washington, D.C., led “Team Bridge to a Cure” and ran her campaign in honor of her oldest son, Beau, who survived stage 4 cancer. “I’ve made it my mission to never stop fighting for cancer cures,” said Swallow. “Just like LLS, my mission has not changed, what has changed is the urgency for patients.”
The National Man & Woman of the Year runners-up were Jesse Giordano of “Team Unity” of Opal Wealth Advisors in Long Island, NY, and Lauren Palmer of “Team Gold” in Charlotte, NC — they raised $437,510 and $352,792, respectively. The National “All Star” winners were Brian Fuller of “Team Lexie’s Legacy” in Atlanta, GA, and Allison Jockel of “Team AML All Stars” in Charlotte, NC. Collectively, they raised more than $542,192. Fuller broke a new national All Star fundraising record and ran his campaign in memory of Lexie Clayton, a former LLS staff member who passed away from cancer at 36 years old.