July 2, 2012 -- Mary Pillsbury Wainwright, of Wildwood, earned The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society?s National 2012 Woman of the Year honor. Pillsbury Wainwright raised an astounding $259,333, and beat out a total of 400 women vying nationally for the title.
In April, she gained the title of Woman of the Year for the Gateway Chapter of LLS.
During a ten-week fundraising period that began in February, the candidates were judged solely on their success in generating funds to advance the mission of LLS. Every dollar raised counts as one "vote." LLS chapter winners' totals were then compared to determine the national Man and Woman of the Year.
The money raised by candidates is used by LLS to fund research seeking cures, better therapies, and to provide information and support so that patients have the best possible outcomes throughout their cancer diagnosis.
"When we ask, 'What can one person do to make a difference,' Mary provides the answer," Debbie Kersting, executive director of LLS' Gateway Chapter, said. "She raised an astounding amount of money that will help find cures for blood cancers and improve the quality of life for patients."
Pillsbury Wainwright, who lost her first husband to leukemia, has been working for years to help bring an end to the disease. "He inspired me while he was fighting for his own life, wanting to help other people," Pillsbury Wainwright said. Pillsbury Wainwright had a sore throat and laryngitis and actually raised the money in only seven weeks. "My philosophy is to be at least as tenacious in raising money for cures as patients are in fighting for their lives," she said. Pillsbury Wainwright noted that she originally set a goal of $200,000 but once she achieved that, she upped it to $250,000 and surpassed that.
"I'm thrilled that my efforts have brought national recognition to St. Louis and the Gateway Chapter," she added.
Nationally, Man & Woman of the Year candidates raised more than $18.9 million for blood cancer patients and researchers. More than $350,000 was through local efforts.
Man and Woman of the Year is just one of its campaigns that allow the Gateway Chapter of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society to assist more than 5,000 local patients and their families with $139,000 in financial aid, $1.14 million in co-pay assistance, support groups, and education. The money raised also allows LLS to provide information in more than 530 schools on cancer and volunteerism and support children returning to school after treatment. The Gateway Chapter also has committed more than $11.6 million in research for cures in Missouri and Illinois. "Blood cancer is the leading cause of deaths from cancer in children under the age of 20 and it strikes adults 10 times that number," Kersting said. "There is no stopping until we find a cure."
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) is the world's largest voluntary health agency dedicated to blood cancer. The LLS mission: Cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families. LLS funds lifesaving blood cancer research around the world and provides free information and support services.
Founded in 1949 and headquartered in White Plains, NY, LLS has chapters throughout the United States and Canada. To learn more, visit www.LLS.org or contact the Information Resource Center at (800) 955-4572, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET. Information for the Gateway Chapter can be accessed at: www.lls.org/gat.