Being diagnosed with leukemia made me realize that when a person is diagnosed with a life threatening disease it is not only the person that is diagnosed but the entire family. My family and I became a team with one goal in mind which was striving to get me healthy again. We are so thankful for my positive prognosis and because of this we would like to give back to others what was given to me — a cure. Fifty years ago Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia (APML) was considered to have a mortality rate of 100% and no form of treatment. Since then this disease has come a long way to now have an established treatment plan with a 90% cure rate. This disease has come full circle in such a short time which is astounding to my family and I and motivates us even more in participating with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) fundraising efforts to continue the fight against blood cancers.
In the 2009 and 2010 fundraising campaigns Tilton Ski Team raised a total of $6000. This was very inspiring to us that by reaching out we could make such a difference in so many peoples lives! In 2011 we decided to set a goal of raising $10,000. At first $10,000 seemed to be wishful thinking. After brainstorming we came up with several new fundraising ideas that had the potential to get us to our goal, along with reaching out to more people and raising awareness for this important cause.
To start we created a team newsletter that was the source of information about our team, who we are, why we are involved with LLS, and how people can help. We reached out to businesses and over the course of the summer received sponsorships and donations from companies such as GTC Biotherapeutics, Tilton Cleaning and Restoration Company, Belfor USA Group Inc., Towerwall Inc., Caron Building Center., Fair and Yeager Insurance, and Giant Steps Daycare. We also created ―donate and save‖ coupons which were distributed to customers of Tilton Cleaning Co.
A big part of what made our team successful in fundraising is reaching out to each and every person that we knew, not just asking for a donation but for their support and asking them to help us spread the word of who we are and what we are doing. My father, sister, and I have been competitively water skiing since we were children and we compete in several water ski tournaments each summer. Because of our love of water skiing we decided to combine water skiing and LLS all in one! On July 16th, 2011 Tilton Ski Team skied in Boston harbor to raise awareness for LLS. At 7:00 am my mother, father, sister, and I put on our water skis and each wore a red shirt with a different letter on it displaying L-L-S and the leukemia ribbon. My husband was in the boat, along with Randy and Terry Youngsma, our boat crew, with a digital camera set up to capture the event (go to the Team Updates tab to see the video)! It was a beautiful day, the sun was out and shining in Boston with the city in front of us and the airport in back, we did several loops around the harbor, it was a great day and we had a lot of fun.
In September 2011 our team hosted a barbecue at our ski clubs water ski tournament in Wolfeboro, NH. We raised a total of $500, on September 7th, 2012 we will be hosting our second annual barbecue at the 25th Annual New England Slalom Championship.
The major annual fundraising event which is sponsored by LLS is the ―Light the Night Walk which was scheduled for October 31st, 2011 in Worcester, MA. The newspaper headline that morning read "October Snow Storm Wreaks Havoc on Northeastern States", Worcester, MA was buried in a foot and a half of snow! Needless to say we had to reschedule the walk which was held a few weeks later at the Beechwood Hotel. As the honored hero of the walk I had the opportunity to serve as the keynote speaker. It was a great evening where I was awarded the "Top Individual Fundraiser" award for the second year in a row (we are hoping for a 3rd!) and Tilton Ski Team received the "Above and Beyond" award for our efforts in the 2011 campaign. It was an amazing event and even without having the walk the Worcester walk met its goal of raising $140,000! Even though the walk was over we still had the opportunity to fundraise and collect funds until January 2012. In November and December 2011 I reached out to the company I work for, Quintiles, which is a pharmaceutical services company managing clinical trials on behalf of pharmaceutical customers. Quintiles has helped develop or commercialize all of 2009‘s top 50 best selling drugs or compounds and nearly 90% of all breakthrough products released on the market between 1996 and 2008. My department is made up of 25 countries worldwide. The department head heard about our mission with LLS, and reached out to see how we could incorporate LLS with our companies QDAY, which is a day recognizing employees and giving back to the communities around us. Three countries hosted bake sales and fundraisers in support of our team! In total among the fundraisers and individual contributions Quintiles fundraisers raised $3500! Donations came from 9 countries across the globe including: Belgium, Chile, France, Greece, Netherlands, Russian Federation, Ukraine, United Kingdom, and USA!
It is a new year with new challenges, and I am always up for a challenge. This year Kristen, Mike, and Denise have joined the LLS Leadership team which is a dedicated group of individuals working with LLS to provide leadership and assistance in ensuring the financial goals are met by furthering corporate development and growth and charging peers to become involved as corporate teams and or/sponsors. Kristen is a candidate for the Man & Women of the Year Campaign (more information on the home page). Kristen is also a volunteer for the First Connection program which is a group of volunteer survivors offering caring support and information by sharing their perspectives on the recovery process. This unique match gives the patient or family member valuable insight from someone who also has experienced a blood cancer.