Each year, in communities across the country, dedicated candidates engage in an exciting competition to earn The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS)’s “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 fundraisers each spring, The Man & Woman of the Year (MWOY) campaign is a spirited 10-week fundraising competition in which 20-30 men & women set out to raise as much money as they possibly can for LLS. This year marks the 31st anniversary of the MWOY campaign and 21 candidates have set a combined goal of raising $3.5 million 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 2022 Washington, DC MWOY campaign will run Thursday, March 24 – Saturday, June 4, 2022. LLS is the world’s largest voluntary health organization dedicated to curing blood cancers and improving the quality of life of patients.
One of those 21 candidates are taking on an even bigger challenge as she represents the Washington, DC MWOY campaign in the 2022 All Star competition. The MWOY All Star campaign launched in 2014 as a fundraising competition among a select group of 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. We are excited to announce Christine Mills from the Virginia Academy as our 2022 female all-star candidate. Christine is dedicating her campaign to her own cancer journey and to a close friend who lost her battle in December 2021.
The Man & Woman of the Year winners will be announced at the Grand Finale Celebration on June, 4th, 2022.
The 2022 campaign co-chairs are Christine Thayer of Thayer Clinical Psychology Services and Eric Grossman of DLA Piper.
This year’s fundraising is in honor of two special patient heroes, the 2022 Boy & Girl of the Year: 13-year-old Collin & 9-year-old Naomi, young blood cancer survivors.
Meet the 2022 Boy & Girl of the Year!
Meet the Boy of the Year, Collin
On Memorial Day 2020, Collin woke up with a mild fever, swollen tonsils, canker sores, and a small, odd protrusion on his jawline. Within 12 hours of arriving at the Inova Fairfax ER, Collin was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) FLT3-ITD, which is categorized as a “high-risk” leukemia on July 21, 2020.
Collin went through three rounds of chemotherapy from July through November 2020 and moved from Inova Fairfax to Johns Hopkins and underwent a bone marrow transplant on December 23, 2020, receiving his dad’s blood cells.
Although there were many ups and downs, Collin remained incredibly strong, faithful, and resilient throughout the long hospital stays and multiple phases of debilitating side-effects and complications from countless drugs and procedures.
Meet the Girl of the Year, Naomi
On August 10, 2018, Naomi was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL). Over the next two years, she faced the fight against childhood cancer with the help of the Inova Children’s Hospital and Pediatric Specialists of Virginia’s Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders.
The road ahead would be long and lonely at times as she battled bone aches, headaches, weight gain, weight loss, hair loss, changes in appetite, bruising, sleeplessness, and the list goes on and on — to put it in her own words, “it sucked.” However, in true Naomi fashion, she tapped into her warrior spirit, to not only survive, but thrive despite her diagnosis.
Naomi rang the bell on October 26, 2020 and today, she is a healthy and sassy 8-year-old who just began the third grade and loves the color pink, enjoys art and crafts, and wants to be a teacher when she grows up.
She was first introduced to the Lymphoma and Leukemia Society after attending “Light Up The Night” when she first began her cancer journey and so it is a complete honor and full circle moment to have her selected as the 2022 “Girl of the Year.”
- The 31st annual MWOY competition of the Washington, DC Metro area runs March 24th – June 4th, 2022. The top male and female fundraiser are named Man & Woman of the Year and continue on to compete for the national title.
- The 2022 campaign goal is to reach $3.5 million. The Washington, DC campaign of the Mid-Atlantic region consistently holds one of the top Man & Woman of the Year campaigns in the country, and since 2000, has placed 14 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 4, 2022 at the Grand Finale Gala.
How Candidates Fundraise:
- Final candidates are chosen from those nominated, and then form their own teams and use their communities 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.
Are you interested in getting involved? Please contact Megan Swahn at Megan.Swahn@lls.org or 703.399.2922 for more information.
Meet our 2022 Man & Woman of the Year Candidates!
Alicia Barahona – Able Service Contractors
David Borowski – West Monroe
Krystin Burton – Cycle Instructor
Vinod Chopra – Chantilly Cosmetic Surgery
Jessica Cloonan – iHeartMedia
Mary Kate Costello – Church World Service
Julie Donaldson – Washington Commanders
Mike Guadagnini – Cykor Technologies
Manny Langella – Collibra, Inc.
Amanda Luppino-Esposito – Stand Together Chamber of Commerce
Despina Markogiannakis – Smiles of Chevy Chase
Craig McCullough – Riverbed
Charity Price – Pure Storage
Karen Puente – Little Folks
Paul Ryan – Google Cloud
Jessica Spielvogel – VMware