The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) has officially announced the winners of its 2021 Man & Woman of the Year® campaign — a nationwide philanthropic competition in which thousands of individuals from diverse backgrounds come together for an exciting 10 weeks of creative fundraising efforts to fight blood cancer, a disease that is diagnosed every three minutes in the U.S. and has no means of prevention. Every dollar raised by candidates and their team counts as one vote and this year’s results accumulated to another record-smashing fundraising campaign.
Josh Sussberg of Scarsdale, NY, was awarded the distinguished title, National Man of the Year, breaking a new campaign record, raising $1,747,918, and Julia Lauria of Atlanta, GA, was named National Woman of the Year, raising $538,047. The campaign has helped LLS invest more than $1.3 billion in cutting-edge blood cancer research worldwide, leading to breakthroughs in treatment. And, as the leading source of free blood cancer information, education, and support, LLS helps blood cancer patients through a wide range of free services. Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, LLS has remained laser-focused on its mission priorities: Research, Education & Support and Policy & Advocacy.
“Advancing and accelerating our mission wouldn’t be possible without the relentless volunteers and supporters who raise critical funds through campaigns like Man & Woman of the Year,” said Louis J. DeGennaro, Ph.D., LLS president and CEO. “Together, our work is fueling medical breakthroughs across the cancer landscape. At LLS, we have the power, the passion, and the resolve to ensure blood cancer patients live longer, better lives.”
National Man & Woman of the Year Winners
National Man of the Year, Sussberg, a partner in the Restructuring Group at Kirkland & Ellis LLP, was diagnosed with T-cell lymphoblastic lymphoma in 2016 and knows firsthand the devastation of blood cancer. “Cancer has a way of uniting us all and bringing us together for the common goal of eliminating this debilitating and awful disease,” said the father of three young boys, who has been in remission since December 2016. “Everyone involved in this campaign is a winner for working together to make that goal possible.”
National Woman of the Year, Lauria, a vice president of athlete branding at SportsTrust Advisors, felt inspired to run for Woman of the Year after witnessing several friends who were touched by cancer. “I don’t have anyone in my family who has been directly impacted by cancer but that makes it even more of a responsibility for me to give back,” said Lauria. She led a groundbreaking campaign team that aimed at bringing awareness to equality and diversity in the cancer arena. “No matter where you’re from or what you believe in, we all know somebody whose world was turned upside-down by cancer.”
National Man of the Year Runner-up, Bryan Thomas of World Wide Technology in Washington, DC, raised a record-breaking $1,252,218. Thomas, like Sussberg, was one of three 2021 national campaign winners to surpass the million-dollar fundraising mark. “I’m truly humbled and excited to set a new bar to cure cancer and fund lifesaving research,” said Thomas.
National Woman of the Year Runner-up, Denise Hartmann of BASF Corporation in Charlotte, NC, raised $482,293. A longtime LLS supporter and volunteer, Hartmann continues to keep a promise that she made to her father, who passed away from prostate cancer in 2004, “One step, one mile, and one dollar at a time.”
National “All Star” Man of the Year, Stephen Collins of MassMutual in San Antonio, TX, raised a record-breaking $2.26 million dollars — the highest amount ever fundraised by any candidate in the campaign’s history. With his first Man of the Year campaign in 2014, he linked his fundraising efforts to two LLS-funded research portfolios, one of which was for a groundbreaking immunotherapy treatment, CAR-T therapy. His 2021 All Star campaign was a full circle experience because his close friend’s wife, who he ran in honor of, recently received CAR-T therapy for acute lymphoblastic leukemia and she is now in remission.
National “All Star” Woman of the Year, Dianne Callahan of Catalyst Coaching in Highland, CA, raised $150,047. Callahan’s sister is a non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) survivor and is also a three-time NHL survivor herself. She credits LLS-funded treatment, Rituxan for helping to save her life.
In addition to personal inspiration, all candidates compete in honor of local children in their communities who are cancer survivors. Childhood cancer is a pivotal source of motivation for all candidates to raise funds – while many children survive leukemia, the most common type of pediatric cancer, the treatments are harsh and outdated. Through The LLS Children’s Initiative, LLS is taking on children’s cancer from every direction, disrupting the status quo with a bold vision for young patients – to not only survive their cancer, but thrive in their lives after treatment.
To learn more about Man & Woman of the Year and how to get involved, visit www.mwoy.org.
About Man & Woman of the Year
Man & Woman of the Year candidates from across the country compete in honor of local childhood blood cancer survivors to raise the most funds for blood cancer research. Every dollar raised counts as one vote and the titles are awarded to the individuals with the most votes at the end of the campaign. The top local fundraisers in the country win the national titles.
In addition, past participants show that the fight against cancer isn’t over until there are cures and access for all by competing again in Man & Woman of the Year’s “All Star” competition. This program provides an opportunity for select Man & Woman of the Year alumni to represent their local campaign nationally.
Visit the Man & Woman of the Year website (www.mwoy.org) to support a candidate and learn how to become engaged with LLS.