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When Philanthropy and Competition Go Hand-in-Hand: Leaders Nationwide are Helping Blood Cancer Patients Survive and Thrive

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(Rye Brook, NY- July 13, 2023) - Approximately every nine minutes, someone in the U.S. dies from a blood cancer. Through The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) Visionaries of the Year philanthropic competition, thousands of unstoppable go-getters across the U.S. are determined to change this alarming statistic. LLS announced today, Gina Tronco of Albany, NY, was awarded the campaign’s prestigious title, “Visionary of the Year,” raising over $915,700 for LLS.

For ten weeks, Visionaries of the Year candidates and their team members, 8,000 in total around the country, rallied their networks to raise critical funds for LLS’s mission: cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families. Candidates competed in honor of local blood cancer survivors in their communities.

“I’m so honored to be named the National 2023 Visionary of the Year,” said Tronco. “As a cancer survivor myself, I know firsthand how critical LLS’s work is, and I want to make sure more people get the same opportunity that I did: to live a full life after being diagnosed with cancer.”

In 2018, Tronco faced a new devastating reality dealing with a breast cancer diagnosis. With the combined strength of her and her closeknit family, she eventually prevailed against the disease after undergoing countless therapies.

Tronco’s family has also been impacted by blood cancer — her cousin, Michael, succumbed to leukemia at just 18-years-old after a five-year battle.

“I am all too aware of how devastating all forms of cancer can be, and I feel grateful to have been given a second chance at life, but others are not so lucky, and that’s why I must continue the fight,” said Tronco.

Tronco spearheaded a team she named “G-SQUAD,” comprised of relentless close family members, friends, and supporters from her community who worked together around the clock to host events, meetings and maximize their fundraising totals in every way possible. She even wrote handwritten thank you cards to every donor, no matter how small the donation.

Previously called Man & Woman of the Year, Visionaries of the Year has helped LLS invest more than $1.6 billion in cutting-edge research worldwide, fueling nearly every critical advancement in blood cancer treatment that spans the most promising cancer research. 

“Visionaries of the Year is about incredible leaders from diverse experiences and backgrounds stepping up and leading others to raise critical funds to end blood cancer, and I believe wholeheartedly that one day we will,” said Coker Powell, LLS SVP and Chief Development Officer.

The National Visionaries of the Year Runners-Up were Allie Redder and Nick Kammeyer of Charlotte, NC. Redder ran in memory of her closest friend, Amanda, who passed away last fall to breast cancer. Her message to anyone who would listen was, “LLS will be at the forefront of finding a cure for all cancers.”

Kammeyer ran in honor of his wife, Michelle, who currently has chronic myeloid leukemia. His message to his team and supporters was impactful, “Thanks to the groundbreaking research funded by LLS, today, I have a wife, and my sons have their mother four years post-diagnosis, with an opportunity to be with us for a very long time”.

The National Visionary of the Year “All Star” was Jennifer Keating of Washington, D.C., who raised over $366,950. She originally ran in 2009 in memory of her father, Tom, who passed away in 2006 after a five-year battle with leukemia. This year she took on the challenge of running for All-Star in honor of her chief of staff at her workplace, Mike Petrelle, who survived myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS).

The National Visionary of the Year “All Star” Runner Up was Mark Yoffe, M.D. of Raleigh, NC. Dr. Yoffe participated in the campaign for a third time this year, surpassing his fundraising goals from previous years. He lost his younger brother, Carl, to acute leukemia in the 1970’s who passed away just 10 weeks after his diagnosis. As a physician for 41 years, he has treated thousands of cancer patients throughout his career and is familiar with LLS’s pioneering mark in the cancer research arena.

For more information or to get involved, visit and follow on social media, @LLSusa, #LLSVisionaries. 

Blood cancer patients and their families should 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 the global leader in the fight against 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 regions throughout the United States and Canada. To learn more, visit Patients should contact the Information Resource Center at (800) 955-4572, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET. 

LLS is the only organization featured in the nonprofit category on both Fast Company’s 2022 Brands That Matter list and the 2023 Best Workplaces for Innovators list. LLS stands out among brands around the world for its relevancy, cultural impact, ingenuity, and mission impact. 

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