This weekend we were blessed to spend time with some amazing people. The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Los Angeles had their 2011 Grand Finale Celebration for the Man & Woman of the Year Contest. Ten weeks of competition, all geared toward raising money for the LLS. It is a fun event overshadowed by the need to get money to support those with blood cancers.
If you have read this blog or my book, you know that cancer has been a huge part of my life. My baby brother, Kevin, passed on after a four year battle with Ewing’s Sarcoma. I have spent quite a bit of time in Memorial-Sloan Kettering’s pediatric center. I know the chaos of cancer, and the remarkable stories of hope.
My girlfriend, Mindy Sterling, aka Frau in Austin Powers and soon to be seen on Ant Farm, took up the challenge of the Man & Woman of the Year contest for the LA Chapter. A ten week, raise money any way you can contest all focused on supporting the many programs and research for the LLS. Mindy needed a campaign committee and I was blessed to be asked to be on her committee. (Thanks Mindy) Needless to say with my busy schedule, I have no idea if I participated enough. I just know that through her inspiration, I did my best with the limited time I have praying along the way! Any money going to any cancer funding, I am in. Saturday night was the celebration of everyone’s hard work and the night they announced the winner.
Eleven Candidates, all with friends and family in tow began this odyssey by meeting at The Pacific Dining Car, a great restaurant in Santa Monica. One of the candidates is Wes Idol III from The Pacific Dining Car. What a nice guy. He got involved because his girlfriend’s son, Logan Nobriga was diagnosed with Leukemia at the age of four. Not only was Logan there but so was a cutie named Celeste Garcia. Celeste was also diagnosed with Leukemia at four. These are the families that the LLS help. That night at the kickoff reception, you couldn’t help but get excited.
Ten weeks later we are at the Ritz-Carlton celebrating the fundraising that these amazing candidates had done. Eleven candidates raised more than 200,000, and my friend Mindy was crowned Woman of The Year. I have tears thinking about it. Mindy, whose son Max didn’t think she could win, did it. She had raised more than 50,000 and was able to name a research grant after her parents. Kyle Garlett was named Man of The Year and to be honest his story is amazing. A four time cancer survivor and Heart transplant recipient, Kyle is the only heart transplant recipient to ever compete in the Ironman World Championship.
We laughed, we celebrated, and we heard amazing stories of triumph and loss. Tim Hooten, Co-Chairperson of the event, talked about the drug that keeps his leukemia at bay. This drug was developed because of research. Thanks Tim for sharing. Then, the Man & Woman of The Year results were announced and my friend, crying, thanked everyone for their support. She was a bit stunned, I think. The participants didn’t know if they had won until that very moment. Her son Max was with her and wanted to say something. Mindy had breast cancer when max was very young. He said, “My mom had cancer when I was small and I don’t remember much. But, I knew she was sick and I would kiss her bald head to make her hair grow. “
When the presentation was finished a mom came up to Mindy and told her the story of her son, let’s call him J, who was diagnosed in February. He is just four. As my family was dancing, which they do whether things are good, bad, or indifferent, I watched her and her husband off to the side. She had a look of exhaustion and of sadness. I watched them for a long time. They were not dancing.
Until we are all dancing, I am in. I am in to support anyone who fights cancer. Anyone like my friend Mindy, and the amazing candidates from Los Angeles, Paul Bost, Lori Caden, Ryan Daly a AML survivor, Dan Fein, Kyle Garlett, Jennifer Giannini, Alfred Hopton, Wes Idol III, Ali Shiry, and Christina Texeira. Count me and my family in like Breeana Garrett and everyone at LLS. Like our friends at Roundtable Partners who are involved with another great organization, The MMRF, Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation. Just count the Moss family in, we may still be dancing as we work, but I promise we are….in.
To Learn More about the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and this years candidates please go to;