RYE BROOK, N.Y., March 22, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As the world's leading non-profit dedicated to fighting blood cancers, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) has played a role in most therapies used today to treat blood cancer patients, some of which are even helping patients with other cancers and serious diseases. Such advances are possible due to LLS's significant investment in cutting-edge research – more than $1 billion in the organization's history. That milestone continues to grow with the record-breaking sum of $4.1 million raised at the 30th annual Leukemia Ball, held March 11, in Washington, D.C. Supported by private donations and industry, including PhRMA and other sponsors, these donations will fund blood cancer research to advance lifesaving treatments and cures, and critical patient education and support programs.
The Leukemia Ball reigns as one of Washington, D.C.'s most prestigious fundraising events, and one that demonstrates LLS's impact in the cancer arena. National TV personalities and husband and wife team Lindsay Czarniak, ESPN SportsCenter anchor, and Craig Melvin, MSNBC anchor and "Today" show correspondent, emceed the event, which featured performances by Grammy-nominated comedian Jim Gaffigan and platinum-selling artist Andy Grammer. The event, at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, was attended by more than 1,700 guests from the business, medical, sports, philanthropic and entertainment worlds.
To showcase LLS's leadership in cancer research, a highlight of the Ball was an update of LLS's pioneering work in acute myeloid leukemia (AML), one of the deadliest blood cancers for which there has not been an advance in treatment for more than 40 years. LLS recently launched the groundbreaking Beat AML Master Trial, which uses genomic technology to identify genetic mutations that drive the cancer so patients can be matched with more precisely targeted therapies. Beat AML lead investigator, world renowned cancer expert Brian Druker, M.D., Director, OHSU Knight Cancer Institute, has worked with LLS for more than 22 years.
According to Louis J. DeGennaro, Ph.D., LLS President and CEO, "LLS is honored to be working with Dr. Druker, who is as passionate as we are about pushing the envelope to find cures and improve the quality of life for cancer patients and their families. With our Beat AML Master Trial, we are truly changing the paradigm for the way cancer research is done by advancing the promise of precision medicine not someday, but today."
DeGennaro continued, "Thirty years ago the survival rate for children diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) was 10%, today it's 90%. For children diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, we've taken the survival rate from 50% to 85%. We have made great progress but there is more work to be done. And LLS is determined to continue to lead the charge for patients."
A moving "mission moment" featured award-wining journalist Loriana Hernandez-Aldama, who is currently battling acute myeloid leukemia (AML), with Dr. Druker. Previous to his work on Beat AML, Druker's ground-breaking LLS-funded research changed the landscape of cancer through the development of the targeted drug imatinib (Gleevec®). A treatment for chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), imatinib has helped tame one of the most lethal forms of leukemia and saved the lives of thousands of patients.
"The Leukemia Ball is one of D.C.'s can't miss events. What's truly inspiring is how the community really came together to exceed our goals for the 30th anniversary," said Wayne Berson, Leukemia Ball Senior Co-Chair and Chief Executive Officer, BDO. "This mission is critically important and I am proud to partner with an organization that is leading the charge in changing outcomes for cancer patients."
The evening featured a special fundraising effort, in honor of former LLS National Capital Chapter Executive Director and Leukemia Ball Founder, David Timko, a two-time lymphoma survivor. Driven by some of the region's top corporate executives, C.E. Andrews, Chairman of MorganFranklin; Albert Lord, former head of Sallie Mae; Ed Quinn, Chairman of TW Perry; and Bill Shaw, Chairman of Marriott Vacations Worldwide, presented a check for $1 million to LLS in David Timko's name.
The first Leukemia Ball spearheaded by Timko raised $80,000. Since 1988, the Leukemia Ball has raised more than $59 million to support LLS's mission. Over the past 30 years, Timko has worked with countless outstanding area executives who dedicated their time, talent and treasury to advancing the mission of LLS. Knowing of David's passion for advancing blood cancer research, they thought of no greater gift than to advance research into the disease that David spent his career making progress with and fought, not once, but twice, lymphoma.
Over the course of three decades, funds raised by LLS through the Leukemia Ball have provided hope to more than 1.2 million Americans living with blood cancer. In the DC metro region there are 25,000 people living with leukemia, lymphoma or myeloma.
The Fund the Fight portion of the evening featured Patrick Paolini, Vice President & General Manager, Fox5; Holly Morris, Anchor, Fox 5; and Morning-Show Radio Personality Loo-Katz from WASH-FM. Together they helped generate additional funds on-site, resulting in $174,000 raised in 10 minutes. The night's program included recognition of the 2017 Titan of Business & Philanthropy DLA Piper, LLP and the 2017 James L. Eichberg Lifetime Achievement Award recipients, Ed & Donna Offterdinger who have supported LLS for over 20 years and helped raise more than $12 million.
"While many blood cancers have seen an incredible increase in survival rates over the years, AML is one area that hasn't seen a change in over 40 years," said Dave DiLuigi, Leukemia Ball Co-chair and Market President, Greater Washington & Central Virginia for Wilmington Trust, N.A. "We have made great strides but the need to find cures for all blood cancers remains, and the stories shared during the Ball inspired our guests to support LLS's mission to their greatest capacity."
The festivities also included dinner, a world-class silent auction featuring incredible travel packages from Official Airlines Sponsor, American Airlines and the anticipated Mercedes-Benz raffle. Washington Area Mercedes-Benz dealers, who have been raffle sponsors of the Leukemia Ball for 20 years, have helped raised more than $7 million for LLS.
Top 2017 sponsors include: PhRMA, Presenting Sponsor; The LIUNA Charitable Foundation and C.J. Coakley CO., INC, Partners in Hope; DLA Piper, LLP, Titan of Business & Philanthropy; Jazz Pharmaceuticals, Mission Sponsor; Washington-Area Mercedes-Benz, Official Raffle Vehicle Sponsor; and American Airlines, Official Airline.
For more information on LLS or the 30th Anniversary Leukemia Ball, visit www.lls.org/nca.
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 for 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, N.Y., 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.
About The National Capital Area Chapter
LLS has 56 U.S. chapters, and the National Capital Area Chapter is one of the highest revenue-generating chapters in the nation. The National Capital Area Chapter serves Washington D.C.; the Maryland counties of Prince George and Montgomery; and the Virginia counties of Loudoun, Fairfax, Arlington and Prince William and the city of Alexandria. More than 2,700 patients and families are served by the chapter each year.
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SOURCE The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society