Contact: Kristin Hoose
White Plains, NY (July 17, 2014) - A Chicago man and Los Angeles woman raised $386,284 and $343,962, respectively, to support The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's (LLS) mission to find cures for blood cancers and ensure that patients have access to lifesaving treatments. As the leading fundraisers in the 2014 Man & Woman of the Year campaign, the 24th year for this prestigious program, these "Champions of Hope" were among the 900 candidates from across the country to vie for the coveted title of Man or Woman of the Year. The campaign total of $30.5 million is nearly $8 million more than was raised last year.
Dr. Christos Giannoulias of G&T Sports Medicine in Chicago, and Samara Wolpe, a student at Milken Community High School in Los Angeles, emerged as the highest fundraisers in the country, earning them the title of national Man of the Year and Woman of the Year, respectively.
"This year's Man & Woman of the Year campaign truly shows that everybody wins when cancer loses," states George Omiros, LLS executive vice president, chief campaign & field development officer. "LLS is greatly moved by the generosity, passion and hard work of the candidates and campaign teams helping to raise funds for LLS's mission during the 2014 Man & Woman of the Year campaign. These unique advocates and community leaders help distinguish LLS from other cancer charities."
Dr. Christos Giannoulias is a surgeon and co-owner of G&T Orthopedics and Sports Medicine in Chicago, Illinois. Christos has raised $386,284 in honor of three people very special to him: his mother-in-law, Kathleen Zins, who lost her battle with lymphoma 15 years ago; his mother, Panagiota Giannoulias, who is a chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) survivor; and his father, Spiros Giannoulias, who lost his battle with cancer this past spring. Chris and his wife Patricia have two beautiful children, Spiros and Kathleen, both named after their late grandparents. Their family is passionate about LLS's mission and has been involved with the Illinois chapter for many years. Christos says, "My wish is that one day we will remember LLS as a charity that is no longer needed because blood cancers will be eradicated."
Samara Wolpe is a 17-year-old junior high school student from Los Angeles, California. For most of Samara's childhood her parents had cancer: her mother was diagnosed with reproductive cancer when Samara was a baby; her father had a benign brain tumor caused by a seizure when Samara was six. Three years later her father was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. In honor of their survivorship and in appreciation for LLS's funding of the breakthrough drug Rituxan, which saved her father's life, Samara raised $343,962.03. She told Focus Magazine, "I learned that funding for cancer research comes from people who believe we can, and will, find a cure. It's my turn now to be a part of that story, and pay it forward." For the past five years Samra's mother has also been fundraising for LLS with the Team In Training program.
"More than one million Americans are living with a blood cancer; and every three minutes one person in the United States is diagnosed with a blood cancer," explains Omiros. "The Man & Woman of the Year campaign, along with LLS's other national fundraising initiatives ? Team In Training, Light The Night, School & Youth Programs and the Leukemia Cup, have helped LLS invest more than $1 billion in research to advance breakthrough therapies that are saving lives today."
About Man & Woman of the Year
Man & Woman of the Year candidates across the country compete in honor of a local boy and girl who are blood cancer survivors, to raise the most funds for blood cancer research. Every dollar counts as one vote, and the titles are awarded to the man and woman with the most votes at the end of the campaign. The top local fundraisers in the country win the national titles.
Beginning with the 2014 campaign, LLS iniated the "All Star" program for Man & Woman of the Year alumni to represent their local campaign nationally by using their talents, contacts and creativity to raise funds to help advance the LLS mission. This year the "All Star" winners are Kim Tindall and Ryan LaFontaine, from the South Central, San Antonio Texas chapter and Michigan chapter, respectively. Tindall is president of Kim Tindall & Associates and raised more than $106,000 for a world without blood cancers. Ryan LaFontaine, of LaFontaine Automotive Group in Michigan, raised more than $230,000. Team LaFontaine reached a remarkable milestone this year, surpassing the $1 million mark in funds raised for LLS through its Man & Woman of the Year team.
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 White Plains, 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.