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Wildwoodian Named Woman of Year for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Gateway Chapter

More than $350,000 raised for local researchers and those dealing with cancer through this year's LLS competition.

Mary Pillsbury Wainwright of , and Joshua Baker of Crestwood, were named Woman and Man of the Year for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Gateway Chapter (LLS). Their fundriasing totals now will be entered into the national competition for Man & Woman of the Year.

During a 10-week fundraising period, beginning with a kickoff celebration, the candidates were judged solely on their success in generating funds to advance the mission of LLS. Every dollar raised counts as one “vote.” Pillsbury Wainwright and Baker were the candidates with the most “votes,” and were awarded the titles of 2012 Woman & Man of the Year at a Grand Finale Celebration on April 26.

Candidates competed in honor of LLS’ Boy & Girl of the Year, local children who are blood cancer survivors and sources of inspiration to others.

Evan is a bright, 13-year-old boy who loves school, playing the violin, swimming and tennis. When he was 10 years old, he was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL), but he never let it get him down. Evan's initial treatments left him completely bald, suffering from neuropathy and 21 pounds lighter. However, with courage and determination, he endured a surgery, two lengthy hospital stays, two weeks of radiation, countless blood and platelet transfusions, and six months of physical therapy to regain his ability to walk and climb stairs. Evan is an amazing young man who, even on his worst days, is constantly seeking ways to help others. Evan should finish chemotherapy in August 2012.

Shamorie is an upbeat, 7-year-old who loves to dance, sing and play with her Barbie dolls. She was diagnosed with ALL on February 27, 2011, and was immediately admitted to the hospital to begin chemotherapy. She remained in the hospital for almost three weeks after that, which was hard because she missed her family and two siblings. Shamorie is very grateful for all of the support from her friends in the St. Louis community. She is still in the maintenance phase of treatment and should be finished in May of 2013.  

The money raised by candidates is used by LLS to fund research seeking cures, better therapies, and to provide information and support so that patients have the best possible outcomes throughout their cancer diagnosis.

Altogether, Man & Woman of the Year candidates raised more than $350,000 for local blood cancer patients and researchers. “This is just one of our campaigns that allow the Gateway Chapter of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society to assist more than 5,000 local patients and their families with financial aid, co-pay assistance, support groups, and education. The money raised also allows LLS to provide information in more than 530 schools on cancer and volunteerism and support children returning to school after treatment,” said Debbie Kersting, the Gateway Chapter’s Executive Director.

“We are forever grateful to Mary, Joshua and the other candidates because we could not maximize the fight against blood cancer without their diligence and network of support. Afterall, blood cancer is the leading cause of deaths from cancer in children under the age of 20, and it strikes adults 10 times that number. There is no stopping until we find a cure.”

Editor's Note:  The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society(LLS) is the world’s largest voluntary health agency dedicated to blood cancer. The LLS mission is to 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 and provides free information and support services. Founded in 1949 and headquartered in White Plains, NY, LLS has chapters throughout the United States and Canada. 

Kelly Wahl is the marketing Coordinator for the LLS - Gateway Chapter.

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