Meet the 2018 Man & Woman of the Year Candidates

Meet the 2018 Man & Woman of the Year Candidates

“The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Man & Woman of the Year campaign provided me with a sense of empowerment. It gave me the opportunity to fight on behalf of my six-year-old goddaughter, Lily, rally our community and raise money to fund research and cures. Receiving the Woman of the Year title made me feel like Lily and the many people currently battling blood cancers will one day receive a cure.” – Jessica Harrison, 2017 Woman of the Year

Each year, in communities across the country, dedicated candidates engage in an exciting competition to earn The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) “Man & Woman of the Year” titles. Raising funds for LLS blood cancer research the candidates compete in honor of children who are local blood cancer survivors, the Boy & Girl of the Year.

Known as one of Washington’s top fundraising events each spring, The Man & Woman of the Year campaign is a spirited 10-week fundraising event in which 20-25 men & women set out to raise as much money as they possibly can for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society over this 10-week period. All proceeds benefit LLS’s mission to cure leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma and to improve the quality of lives of patients and their families. LLS is the world’s largest national voluntary health organization dedicated to curing blood cancers improving the quality of life of patients.

In addition to the 20 Man & Woman of the Year Candidates, The National Capital Area chapter of LLS has hand-selected Evelyn Akers for the 2018 All Star competition.  The Man & Woman of the Year All Star campaign launched in 2014 as a fundraising competition among a select group of Man & Woman of the Year alumni. One former Man and Woman of the Year candidate can be chosen to represent their local market as the All Star Alum for that year. The male and female All Star alumni who raise the most during the campaign will be named the National Man & Woman of the Year All Stars.

These 21 candidates have set a combined goal of raising $2.3 million over a period of 10 weeks for critical cancer research while also raising awareness for LLS’s mission: to cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma and improve the quality of life of patients and their families.

The Man & Woman of the Year winners will be announced at the Grand Finale Gala on June 2, 2018 at the Marriott Marquis with dinner, entertainment, dancing, and a fabulous silent auction.

The 2018 campaign co-chairs are Jeana Foster of Pivotal Moments and John Brookbank of Cisco Systems.

This year’s fundraising is in honor of two special patient heroes, the 2018 Boy & Girl of the Year: four-year-old Sydney & ten-year-old Max, young blood cancer survivors.

Meet Girl of the Year – Sydney!

Sydney was diagnosed with a rare form of Leukemia (Infantile B-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia with MLL-R) at the tender age of 6 months old on April 21, 2014. From the day Sydney was born she was always unhappy and seemingly uncomfortable in her own little body. After a visit to the pediatrician due to a spiked fever, Sydney was immediately admitted to the PICU fighting for her life. #SuperSydney spent over 50 weeks in the hospital during the first year of treatment. She endured the placement of a central line, two different ports, a feeding tube, IV nutrition, spinal taps, bone marrow biopsies, breathing treatments, and so much more.  Today, Sydney is 18 months+ off chemo and a spunky 4-year-old.  She attends preschool, loves gymnastics, wrestling with her sisters, Spiderman and Doc McStuffins.  She wants to be a “heart doctor” or a nurse when she grows up.


Meet Boy of the Year – Max!

Max was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) on July 15, 2014; treatment started the very next day, including a spinal tap, steroids and chemotherapy. While Max had a very good prognosis, the treatment protocol is one of the longest—totaling a little over three (3) years for boys. Max responded well and entered remission in the first month, but in order to keep the Leukemia from staging a comeback, Max underwent 1,162 days of treatment—including the surgical placement of a port, a variety of IV and oral chemotherapies, high-dose steroids and 21 spinal taps. Max completed treatment on September 19, 2017.  Everyone calls him “Amazing Max”. Max lives a BIG life – he is loud, funny, and caring. Max continued to play baseball during treatment and he has tried basketball and archery. He also loves ice skating and he competes on his local diving team. Max is a natural scientist, a huge fan of transportation and all things tech. While just a kid, Max is truly AMAZING in every way!


Quick Facts:

  • The 27th annual MWOY competition of the National Capital Area will run from March 22nd – June 2nd, 2018. The top male and female fundraiser are named Man & Woman of the Year and continue on to compete for the national title.
  • The 2018 campaign goal is to reach $2.3 million. The National Capital Area Chapter consistently holds one of the top Man & Woman of the Year campaigns in the country, and since 2000, has placed eleven national winners.
  • The announcement of the Man & Woman of the Year winners is a celebration of all the candidates’ efforts as a collective class on June 2, 2018 at the Grand Finale Gala. Surrounded by team members and friends, they enjoy food, cocktails, music and an outstanding live and silent auction.
  • Every dollar raised counts as one vote and the titles are awarded to the man and woman with the most votes at the end of 10 weeks. Top local fundraisers become eligible to win the national titles.

How Candidates Fundraise:

  • Final candidates are chosen from those nominated, and then form their own teams and use their contacts and creativity to raise funds. Every candidate and each of their team members will get their own personalized fundraising webpage to reach out to friends and contacts. Chapter staff will assist candidates in goal planning and serve as fundraising consultants.
  • The campaign also includes events and parties that allow candidates to meet their fellow candidates and other local business figures.

Grand Finale Gala, presented by n2grate: The announcement of the Man & Woman of the Year winners is a celebration of all the candidates’ efforts as a collective class. Surrounded by team members and friends, they enjoy food, cocktails, music and an outstanding auction.  Toast to Heroes Sponsor, n2grate, is joined by Mission Sponsor, World Wide Technology; Table Sponsor, Ironbow Technologies; After Party Sponsor, The Keri Shull Team; Hydration & Libation Sponsor; GovSmart; Motivation Sponsor, Presidio; and Corporate Beacon, VAE, as top supporters of the campaign.

Are you interested in getting involved?
Please contact Megan Swahn at  or 703.399.2922 for more information.

How to Purchase Tickets/become a sponsor:


Evelyn Akers, All Star Candidate,

Gina Cramer, Candidate,


Carl De Groot, Candidate,


Richard Di Pietro, Candidate,


Kevin Fenton, Candidate,


Katherine Glorioso Dress, Candidate,

Jessica Mandel, Candidate,

Margie Ruttenberg, Candidate,

Danielle Turcot, Candidate,