Rye Brook, NY, April 11, 2016 – Volunteer led, staff driven. As the world’s leading voluntary non-profit fighting blood cancers, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) has set the bar in defining volunteerism and demonstrating impact. During National Volunteer Week, April 10-16, 2016, LLS would like to thank all its volunteers making an impact in advocacy, policy and patient access.
“LLS has millions of volunteers across the nation who selflessly dedicate time and energy to our organization. This is a great opportunity to show them how important they are to the patients and families that we serve,” said Louis J. DeGennaro, Ph.D., LLS president and CEO. “We are so grateful for their energy, compassion and enthusiasm and we want to share our appreciation for their outstanding work.”
A recent survey by LLS, Giving and Getting Back: Volunteering in America*, asked about ways people are giving back in support of charitable causes. On average, three out of four people agree that giving time, donating money and actively participating in fundraising events are the most effective ways to support a favorite cause.
“With myriad ways to engage, participate, and volunteer, from individual fundraisers to corporate teams to patient access, LLS volunteers are helping LLS cure cancers!” added DeGennaro.
Following are some of the volunteers being honored this week:
In the spring of 2009, Texas resident Gary Thompson was crowned LLS’s Man of the Year in Austin. Soon after, he met six-year-old Kethan who was fighting acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). At the time, Gary’s wife’s breast cancer had just recurred after five years in remission. Knowing he had to do something, he joined LLS’s Team In Training (TNT) program, served as Man & Woman of the Year committee chair, joined the local LLS board, and spent four years on the national LLS Board of Representatives. When Kethan relapsed for the third time, Gary worked with LLS to give him access to an experimental treatment, putting him back in remission. But, after numerous remissions over seven years, Kethan succumbed to pneumonia in 2013. Gary promised Kethan that he would never stop fighting for a cure, and his wife’s passing just a little over a year later steeled his resolve.
Through his professional network, Gary was able to make an introduction between LLS and Walgreens, which led to a recently announced collaboration to further advance cancer therapies and address the changing treatment model facing patients with blood and other cancers. LLS and Walgreens Specialty Pharmacy will work together to enhance patient care, pharmacist education and community leadership.
“This is who I am. This is why I do what I do,” Gary said. “I have been provoked, and until my last breath, I will do all in my power to fight this disease. I am privileged to work with LLS to magnify my voice in the fight!”
The Next Generation
Cassie Fetsch is a student volunteer for the Minnesota chapter. When school is out, Cassie is at the LLS office folding letters, stuffing and labeling envelopes, counting brochures, cleaning out drawers or putting together boxes. In 2010, Cassie's cousin Kylie was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) at age 10, when Cassie was in kindergarten. That year, Cassie's classmates each made a drawing with a note of encouragement during the week of their school’s LLS Pennies for Patients fundraising campaign. With the drawings, Cassie’s teacher created a special book for Kylie. Cassie gave it to her cousin as a gift. Kylie loved it! Cassie has grown up volunteering with her mom, at art festivals, bike rides, walks and TNT training runs, as well as delivering holiday baskets to families in need. Cassie loves to help in any way she can.
Dorothy “Dottie” Spriggs of Baltimore, MD, was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) in 1999, ultimately receiving financial assistance from LLS to help with medication co-pays. Since 2011, Dottie has been giving back by volunteering with LLS, doing office work regularly, participating in events and volunteering as a peer counselor to support others with her diagnosis. She also advocated as part of a grassroots coalition that helped pass an oral parity bill in Maryland.
While managing her CML, she is grateful that she was able to work with LLS and enjoy family and friends. She is living a full life and is proud to be a dedicated friend and volunteer. She travels and is best friends with her 90-year-old mother. She gives back in every facet of her life and is a wonderful volunteer. Dottie said, “The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society was there for me in my time of need. Therefore, I want to give back to LLS to show appreciation for the support I’ve received.”
In 1999, New Fairfield, CT, resident James Harrington was diagnosed with primary central nervous system non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). After five years of treatment, including remission and relapse, James had a stem cell transplant. Since then, James has been a volunteer with the Patti Robinson Kaufman First Connection program, which enables newly diagnosed patients and their loved ones to connect with a trained peer volunteer who has been through a similar diagnosis. James knows how someone who is dealing with treatment and/or diagnosis challenges can be helped by someone who is in a unique position to provide support and community resource information.
Indeed, volunteers play many key roles at LLS chapters, including:
- Patient and professional programs
- Administrative support
- Fundraising support
- Advocacy for access to quality coordinated care
- Advisory roles for local boards of trustees
National Volunteer Week, a 42-year tradition, recognizes and celebrates the efforts of volunteers. Nonprofits, businesses, schools, hospitals, volunteer centers, government agencies and faith-based organizations use National Volunteer Week to highlight their own volunteers and support thousands of service projects in their communities.
Volunteer for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
Volunteering at LLS is a great way for members of the community to put their talents and energy to work to help these patients and families. For more information, visit www.lls.org/ways-to-help/volunteer.
The survey was conducted online for LLS by Russell Research from December 18 - 21, 2015 among 1,022 adults ages 18 and older, including 586 adults who have donated their time in the past year. The margin of error was +/- 3.1 percentage points overall and +/- 4.0% among those who have donated their time.
About The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
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, provides free information and support services, and is the voice for all blood cancer patients seeking access to quality, affordable, coordinated care.
Founded in 1949 and headquartered in Rye Brook, NY, LLS has chapters throughout the United States and Canada. To learn more, visit www.LLS.org. Patients should contact the Information Resource Center at (800) 955-4572, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET.