Making the mark in Maryland
Eastern Shore LLS raises record amount for blood cancer research
CAMBRIDGE — The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of the Eastern Shore celebrated a record-breaking year Saturday, June 11, at the fourth annual Man and Woman of the Year gala, hosted at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Resort.
This year’s 10-week fundraising campaign raised an unprecedented $476,859 total — a record for any Maryland chapter, and nearly double what was raised on the Eastern Shore in last year’s campaign — for the LLS mission to find a cure for blood cancers. Seventy-seven percent of each dollar raised goes straight into funding research, which works out to a contribution of just over $367,000 for research alone.
Anne Arundel County teacher Emily Murray, of Church Hill, was named 2016 Woman of the Year as she and her team raised $135,882. She is a second-generation team winner after Tom Bunce was 2015 Man of the Year.
“My grandmother was here with us last year at the gala, and she lost her fight in August, so that was a big motivation,” she said when asked why she wanted to be involved.
Rich Caton of Halton Group America in Chester was named 2016 Man of the Year having raised $74,109.77 along with his team.
As to why he decided to run, “To honor my sister-in-law and my father-in-law,” he said. “I did this in memory of them.”
“For all the parents, husbands and wives, siblings, all the families who are going through those things, that was enough for me,” he said. “I just wanted to be a part of that and give back. I’m so humbled to be here helping out.”
First runners up for the campaign were Rebecca Kellum with $82,765 raised and William Nielsen with $63,292 raised. Each candidate who raised more $50,000 with their team will be able to choose a research portfolio to decide how that money will be utilized in the fight against blood cancer.
Joining the campaign as candidates were Katie Thomason of Parlour 7 Salon in Denton; Amy Demarr of Choptank Transport in Preston and Mary Kay in Easton;
Easton firefighter Sveinn Storm of Bartlett Pear Bakery in Easton; Justin Davis of Grasonville and B/R Instrument Corporation in Easton; Rebecca Kellum of Kent Island Pediatric Dentistry; and Corrine Banks of Ocean City and Balanced 4 Life Fitness/ID LIFE.
Colby Fowle and Tyler Von Hagel were honored as Girl and Boy of the Year, respectively.
Kent Island American Legion Post 278 was the 2016 Presenting Sponsor of the event. The organization made a $20,000 donation to the campaign in May, and an additional $5,000 donation on the night of the gala during Fund the Fight, a donation lightning round of sorts.
“I congratulate all the nominees on a job well done,” said Post 278 Commander Nikki Randolph. “Your dedication to the LLS is simply outstanding, and know that your hard work during this competition is saving lives whether you are crowned the winner or not, your dedication and performance was awesome.
“We are all touched by cancer in one form or another,” she said. “Cancer doesn’t know if you’re a veteran or a civilian, if you’re white or black, your gender, religion, race or creed, if you’re an animal, cancer can strike anyone, anywhere, at anytime, and that is why the American Legion find the LLS and what they do to be ver y important. Kent Island American Legion is honored to be able to support this year’s Man and Woman of the Year event.”
Maryland LLS Executive Director Jonathan Wilson said he is very proud of the Eastern Shore for an outstanding 2016 campaign.
“This really comes back to awareness,” Wilson said. “The great thing about the year-to-year growth that we are seeing on the Eastern Shore shows that the word is getting out there and more people want to get involved. This campaign is about finding a cure, and we appreciate all the support from the community and the candidates in making this a record-breaking night.
“Getting involved on the Eastern Shore, and getting more and more people aware of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and what we are doing, is the beauty of this campaign,” he said. “That is the energy that we felt in the room tonight.”
Wilson praised the LLS of the Eastern Shore leadership, Jennifer Veil, Katie Wilson and Todd Mason, for starting the Eastern Shore program and growing the campaign.
“At the beginning, it was just them,” he said. “This Eastern Shore campaign was the brainchild of a few people. Now, it is a collective involvement of hundreds of people.
“It keeps growing and growing and growing,” he said. “That just shows you the impact that this campaign along is having on the Eastern Shore. The LLS leadership on the Eastern Shore deserves so much credit for this accomplishment.”
In a unanimous decision by chapter leadership, candidate Katie Thomason was honored with the Angela M. Bullock Citizenship Award, given to the candidate who most exemplifies the mission of the LLS in his or her campaign.
Kent Island Pediatric Dentistry also received special recognition for their unwavering support of the LLS Eastern Shore chapter in the four years since its inception.
Jeff Czorapinski spoke about his family’s personal experience with cancer in his son. In April of 2006, he said his wife took then 10-month-old Joshua to the doctor because he just didn’t look quite right. After being sent to Johns Hopkins Hospital by their pediatrician and many tests, it was determined that Joshua had leukemia.
In addition to having the baby boy beginning chemotherapy treatments, Jeff and his wife worried for the fate of Joshua’s twin brother Adam. He was tested and found to have the same leukemia cells, but miraculously, the disease never developed in him.
“Cancer is a horrible thing, but along the way you meet incredible people, like the kind of people you see here tonight,” he said. “You meet incredible doctors, like the ones that helped us. It’s just amazing what people do and what they put out there.”
Joshua went through three years of treatment in total, one year for his initial diagnosis and another two years after he experienced an isolated relapse. Today, he is a healthy, happy 10-year-old boy.
The 2016 Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of the Eastern Shore Man and Woman of the Year campaign raised a state record $476,859 for blood cancer research.
Rich Caton of Chester and Emily Murray of Church Hill receive the honor of Man and Woman of the Year Saturday, June 11, at the 2016 Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of the Eastern Shore Gala in Cambridge.
Angela M. Bullock Citizenship Award recipient Katie Thomason, of Denton, left, is joined on stage at Saturday’s Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of the Eastern Shore Gala by her daughter Kennedy Thomason, who shaved her head to support her mother in the LLS Woman of the Year campaign.