Tommy Cleaver, a first vice president at CBRE Group Inc., was diagnosed with chronic myelogenous (or myeloid) leukemia while in college. He is fighting it with medicine and money.
The National Capital Area chapter of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society held its grand finale gala Saturday night. Cleaver and Amanda Tiede won the titles of man and woman of the year after a 10-week fundraising campaign.
Tiede, a vice president at Cassidy Turley, said she got involved because a classmate at James Madison University died from blood cancer, leaving behind a wife and young child.
Their work and ticket sales helped the chapter bring in a record $1.1 million for its 21st annual dinner, which was at the Ritz-Carlton in Washington. They were two of 18 area contenders vying to raise the most money.
Cleaver is fighting his disease with the medication Gleevec, which came out of research funded by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. He praised his physician, Richard Jones of the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins University, who was present along with scores of Cleaver’s family and friends.
“I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t have a leukemia story,” said Katie Asprovski, a marketing director, who campaigned all throughout her second pregnancy, even “selling donuts at midnight.”
Asprovski gave birth two weeks ago, and brought along her newborn son, Kiran, husband, Chris, and 9-year-old, Conner. She added that her sister, Courtney, died at age three of a blood cancer.
The 18 contenders and more than 500 guests packed into the hotel for a reception and silent auction. Songs by Adele and Madonna pulsated through the usually staid lobby.
Candidates continued fundraising throughout the evening while a team of accountants on site furiously calculated the tallies as the last dollars flew in. Hand fans with pictures of the contenders were sold for a donation.
Before the 10:30 announcement of the winners, a meal of shrimp salad and beef was served in the ballroom while guests watched videos of the contenders describing their personal connections to the disease. Waiters brought in small pink boxes containing cupcakes with the organization’s logo for dessert.
Michael Cragg, a financial adviser with Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC, whose uncle, Steven Cragg, was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma and survived, said that candidates have a campaign manager and use social media, e-mail lists and old-fashioned phone calls and letters to achieve their objective.
Corporate contributions are also common, he said. A $2,500 contribution from Morgan Stanley was donated on his behalf, but Cragg said he was especially touched that his office receptionist made a sizable donation for him.
Ken Dineen, the North America lead of commercial directors for Accenture, a major sponsor of the evening, sat near the stage. He said he is a survivor of non-Hodgkins lymphoma, and the president of the board of trustees of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, national capital area.
The chapter singled out a few of the contenders for special recognition. Michael Effron, a financial analyst for the General Services Administration, was presented with the volunteerism award. Saadiq Luqman, a manager with KPMG who lost his father to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, was given the mission award, and Amanda Woodhead, corporate-communications manager for Emdeon Inc., was presented with the community-involvement award.
After the awards presentation, the lobby turned into a dance floor for late-night revelry.
“I wanna do it again next year,” Asprovski said.
(Stephanie Green is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)
Muse highlights include: Jeremy Gerard on theater.