LLS recently capped off our three day conference, Leading the Way to a World Without Blood Cancers,
in Washington DC.
Bringing together LLS volunteers, scientists, celebrities, lawmakers and staff, the conference was a huge success in raising blood cancer awareness and reaching influential lawmakers and their staff to make the case for support of two critical pieces of legislation to improve access to therapies for blood cancer patients.
Our symposium: "Bridging the Gap from Bench to Bedside: The Road to Cures and Access," featured eight renowned researchers who presented insights into how we are gaining a better understanding of what makes cancer progress, and why some patients respond to therapy while others do not. Our afternoon panel discussion led by Dr. Louis DeGennaro, interim president and CEO and chief mission officer, brought together renowned researchers and clinicians from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, the University of Pennsylvania, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and others.
They were joined by the parents of children touched by blood cancers offering their unique and up-close insights into the availability and challenges in accessing critical treatments for their children. We capped off our day with inspirational remarks from two blood cancer survivors, Erin Zammett Ruddy and Jessica Melore.
We opened with a breakfast for top fundraising partners and individuals who epitomize the spirit of the LLS mission. The honorees collectively raised a remarkable $21 million in 2013 to help advance LLS's quest for cures and access. Bruce Cleland and Gary Jobson both joined us during the awards ceremony. Cleland, as most of you know, planted the seed that started Team In Training in 1988, and Jobson, winner of the 1977 America's Cup, has served as national chairman of the Leukemia Cup Regatta since 1993.
House Speaker Eric Cantor (R-Virginia) spoke of LLS's critical role in advocating for the passage of the Gabriella Miller Kids First Act, a law which reallocates money earmarked for political conventions to fund research for pediatric diseases. Marty Liquori, famous for being the third American high school student to break the four-minute mile and a U.S. Olympian, talked about his long involvement with LLS and TNT and the importance of funding research to find cures. Later that evening, Ethan Zohn, former soccer player and winner of CBS's reality series, "Survivor: Africa," and two-time Hodgkin lymphoma survivor, spoke about his involvement with LLS to help other survivors and their families.
We kicked off Day 3 with the inspiring story of Sadie Floyd, a 22-year-old competitive drag racer who was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia when she was 2, who has committed to using her racing career as an outlet to get the word out about blood cancers.
And Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) urged us on before hundreds of LLS advocates stormed the Hill, attending more than 300 meetings with members of Congress and their staff, during which we made a strong case for support of bills that will help ensure patients get access to the therapies they need.
We concluded Day 3 with a special performance at D.C.'s Union Station by Charles Esten, a singer and actor known for his role in the ABC drama series "Nashville," whose daughter is a leukemia survivor.
We heard from researchers, survivors, families and volunteers and shared best practices. We celebrated a major milestone - surpassing $1 billion in research investment - and we brought our cures and access agenda to the Hill.
You can help by signing our petition asking legislators to support bills improving access for patients: by visiting www.lls.org/accessnow.