photos courtesy of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Greater Phoenix

Above:  The 2019 Grand Finale Gala raised nearly $1.1 million in support of the LLS mission to cure blood cancers.

On June 1, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) of Greater Phoenix held its annual fundraiser. The Grand Finale Gala, held at the JW Marriott Scottsdale Camelback Inn, raised nearly $1.1 million for live-saving research and patient support. 

Above: Genevra Richardson and Forest Melton were crowned the 2019 Man & Woman of the Year.

The Man & Woman of the Year campaign is a national philanthropic competition to support blood cancer research. A record number of 21 candidates from across the Valley participated in the 10-week campaign to raise funds in support of LLS’ mission to cure leukemia, lymphoma, myeloma and other blood cancers. Forest Melton and Genevra Richardson were crowned Phoenix Man and Woman of the Year. Kathy Pidgeon and Antonio Moor were the 2019 runners-up. 

Melton, a Phoenix native and University of Arizona alum, raised $72,185 during the 10-week campaign. He is a research specialist at the University of Arizona Cancer Center/ Dignity Health.

Setting a new fundraising record for the Arizona chapter, Richardson raised $246,761 during the campaign. She was co-chair of the first Phoenix Man and Woman of the Year Campaign in 2013 and currently serves on the LLS Arizona Chapter Board of Trustees. The Phoenix resident is the founder and owner of GovGroup, a public affairs firm. A wife and mother of two, Richardson is a recent breast cancer survivor.

Above: The 21 Men & Women of the Year candidates toast the event’s success.

Each year the candidates form powerful fundraising teams and compete in honor of two local children who are blood cancer survivors. The 2019 winners of the Boy & Girl of the Year were fourth-grader Julien Herrera of Goodyear and seventh-grader Bella Hicks of Cave Creek.

Dedicated to curing leukemia, lymphoma, myeloma and other blood cancers, LLS is the world’s largest nonprofit health organization dedicated to funding blood cancer research and providing education and patient services. In the last 19 years, 40-percent of all cancer treatments were first approved for blood cancer and, in the past 52 years, LLS funded 34 of the 39 new FDA-approved blood cancer therapies. 

Since 1949, LLS has invested almost $1.3 billion in groundbreaking research, pioneering many of today’s most innovative approaches. Working to find cures and ensure patients can access the lifesaving treatments they need, the nonprofit provides hope, compassion, education and support. For more information, visit https://www.lls.org/arizona