(RYE BROOK, N.Y., Nov. 1, 2021) - Olympians from across the U.S. are joining The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's (LLS) "Shred For Red" fundraising event to fight blood cancer, a disease diagnosed every 180 seconds nationwide. Happening on December 4, before the official 2022 Winter Olympic Games kick off, Shred For Red is a fun and unique national event that provides participants the opportunity to ski with Olympians, access Utah's iconic Deer Valley Ski Resort, often referred to as "The Greatest Snow on Earth" and is open to all ages and ski levels. After pivoting to a virtual format in 2020, this highly anticipated in-person event is expected to be bigger than ever before, while following COVID-19 safety guidelines and bringing together an unparalleled community to Utah for one ultimate goal – to end blood cancer.
LLS, the global leader in the fight against blood cancer, provides guidance, education, and support every step of the way. Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, LLS has remained laser-focused on its mission priorities: Research, Education & Support and Policy & Advocacy. And, this wouldn't be possible without the thousands of participants and volunteers who raise critical funds through LLS's fundraising campaigns, like Shred For Red.
One Olympian who will be joining LLS on the slopes, Bryan Fletcher, a six-time World Champion skier and two-time Nordic Combined Olympian, participating in both the 2014 and 2018 Winter Olympics, knows firsthand the devastation of blood cancer. At three years old, Fletcher battled acute lymphoblastic leukemia and endured over three long years of intensive treatment until he was eventually declared cancer-free in 1994.
"The older I get, I realize how lucky I am to have had the life I've had so far," said Fletcher. "Unfortunately, I'm very aware that is not true for everyone out there who has walked in my shoes."
Today, the father of two, has turned his pain into passion, partnering with LLS to help create Shred For Red and has served as the event's committee member for the past four years.
Fletcher isn't the only Olympic athlete propelled to fight blood cancer, he is joined by several fellow Olympians who will also be "shredding for red" on December 4, including Shannon Happe, a three-time Olympian, competing in freestyle mogul skiing, Chris Waddell, a six-time Olympian competing in Alpine Skiing, Wheelchair Track and more.
"LLS is working tirelessly to find cures and provide more support for blood cancer patients than any organization in the world and I'm honored to be able to give back through Shred For Red," said Fletcher. "LLS provides hope, guidance, education, and support when it's needed most, so that no one has to face cancer alone, and I want anyone touched by this horrible disease, which has no means of prevention, to know that they are not alone."
As a childhood cancer survivor, Fletcher is especially passionate about one of LLS's newest and most important mission initiatives that touches all of us deeply because it affects some of the most vulnerable patients – children.
"While many children survive leukemia, the most common type of childhood cancer, the treatments are harsh and outdated — there's still so much more work to be done," said Fletcher.
Now, with The LLS Children's Initiative, LLS is seeking to fund a $100 million, five-year, global campaign to finance groundbreaking research and treatments for children's blood cancers. Through this 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.
For inspiration, Shred for Red participants ski in honor of local blood cancer patients in their communities named "Honored Heroes". The event's National Honored Hero, 14-year-old Quade Marks of Denver, CO, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia with monosomy 7, a deadly type of blood cancer and was given four to eight weeks to live at the time of his diagnosis in 2016. After months of inpatient hospitalization, four rounds of chemotherapy, and a bone marrow transplant, Quade is now cancer-free and is an active public speaker, fundraiser, and public policy advocacy volunteer with LLS.
"We are incredibly honored that Olympic athletes are using their celebrated platforms to help LLS raise awareness about the urgent need for blood cancer cures," said Louis J. DeGennaro, Ph.D., LLS President and CEO. "Every facet of our mission – research, education and support, and policy and advocacy – is working in harmony to put all blood cancer patients and their families first, and this wouldn't be possible without the relentless participants and volunteers involved in LLS's powerful fundraising events like Shred For Red."
Since its founding in 1949, LLS has invested more than $1.3 billion in cutting-edge blood cancer research worldwide, and its support has been instrumental in the development of nearly every breakthrough in blood cancer treatment. With a more than 70-year track record, LLS has supported virtually every advancement in blood cancer treatment. They have helped advance more than 85 percent of blood cancer treatments approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) since 2017.
To get involved with Shred For Red or to learn more, visit www.lls.org/shredforred
Blood cancer patients and their families can contact the LLS Information Resource Center at (800) 955-4572, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., ET.
About The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society® (LLS) is a global leader in the fight against cancer. The LLS mission: Cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease and myeloma. 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 regional offices throughout the United States and Canada. To learn more, visit www.LLS.org. Patients should contact the LLS Information Resource Center at (800) 955-4572, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., ET.