In a spirited philanthropic competition to raise the most money for cancer cures in a 10-week timeframe, dedicated community leaders and their teams of supporters in cities across the country volunteered their time, skills, energy and passion to compete for the prestigious national title of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) Man & Woman of the Year. Records have been broken across all categories, lives have been changed and advancements in cancer treatments are being made.
For the 2018 Man & Woman of the Year campaign, these passionate competitors together surpassed all previous campaign totals, raising an astonishing $45 million for LLS. This innovative fundraising campaign has raised more than $327 million in its 29-year history. The Man & Woman of the Year candidates are compassionate and relentless in their desire to find cures for blood cancers and driven to reach their own personal fundraising best.
This year’s national winners are Carl De Groote of Cisco Systems in Crownsville, MD, and Niki Salter of Legacy Mutual Mortgage in San Antonio, TX. These top national fundraisers raised $728,993.28 and $526,449, respectively.
According to LLS president and CEO, Louis J. DeGennaro, Ph.D., “The Man & Woman of the Year campaign continues to raise the bar for charity fundraising by demonstrating the power and impact of volunteers, individuals and the teams that support them. These relentless and committed fundraisers are achieving a lifetime of results in 10 weeks. These dedicated volunteers are helping LLS save lives.”
The funds raised through Man & Woman of the Year are used by LLS to:
- Fund new research approaches, including precision medicine and immunotherapies that are saving lives.
- Provide timely and critical information and support for newly diagnosed blood cancer patients and their families, as well as health care providers.
- Support advocacy efforts for federal and state laws and policies to enable patients to access lifesaving treatments and cures.
The 2018 Man & Woman of the Year Winners
Carl De Groote, of Crownsville, MD, a veteran of the IT industry, has worked with Cisco Systems for 16 years cultivating relationships with government agencies for positive impact. Carl’s decision to participate in this year’s Man & Woman of the Year campaign stemmed from his aspiration for mission-focused work. His groundbreaking campaign included a one-of-a-kind “Connect for a Cure Olympics” bringing together Cisco partners and competitors in the industry. De Groote shared during his acceptance speech that he knew it would be a challenge but as his eldest daughter Ellie shared with him, “Raising money is easy, fighting cancer is hard.”
Niki Salter, of San Antonio, TX, a nationally recognized mortgage professional and coach, knew she was up for a challenge after learning she was nominated to run for the 2018 Woman of the Year, but she exceeded all expectations. She used her finance background coupled with her experience in building highly impactful teams and applied it to her campaign. Salter set her campaign expectations high from the beginning – never even asking what the minimum requirement was, she just wanted to know what the current record was.
The runners-up were John Shumate of Venture First in Louisville, KY, and Jordan Simpson of Houston, TX – they raised $602,306 and $351,000, respectively. The Man & Woman of the Year “All Star” winners were Anthony Sorrentino of SilverStone Group, Inc., and Evelyn Akers. Collectively, they raised more than $500,000 for cancer cures. The All Star program is a group of alumni who represent their local campaign nationally, and highlight that the fight is not over until there are cures for all.
Reaching New Heights
Man & Woman of the Year extended its impact last year by establishing a new innovative take on peer-to-peer fundraising through Students of the Year — a campaign that mobilized hundreds of motivated high school students across the country to raise millions for LLS. For the 2018 Students of the Year campaign, cousins Samir Shah, 16, of The Calverton School in Huntingtown, MD, and Saar Shah, 15, of Great Mills High School in Lexington Park, MD, raised the most funds across the entire US and earned the winning title, “National Students of the Year,” with a record-breaking raise for cancer cures. These fundraising superstars orchestrated a dynamic campaign that included an innovative kite festival, Fly4aCure, in their close-knit Southern Maryland community.