Few black-tie events in the D.C. area have as much staying power as the annual Leukemia Ball. For the past 29 years, the fundraiser has been one of the most important philanthropic gatherings of the year, with more than $52 million raised to date for the National Capital Area Chapter of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS).
Aiding in that effort are corporate leaders like Wayne Berson, who joins Ed Offterdinger, the executive managing partner of the accounting and advisory firm Baker Tilly, as one of the co-chairs of this year’s ball.
Co-Chair: Personal Commitment
While Berson serves as CEO of the American division of the global accounting network BDO USA, he’s also personally committed to raising funds for LLS’s mission. Early on, Berson lost his brother to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma; years later, a related blood cancer would claim his mother-in-law.
“It’s an unfortunate disease that’s been close to our family, just like it’s been close to many other families — that is probably why I’ve gotten involved with this particular effort versus any other health-related cause,” says Berson, whose company will be presented with LLS’s Titan of Business & Philanthropy Award at the Ball.
“It has been our experience as a firm that being a good corporate citizen is rewarding in multiple ways,” adds Berson, whose company’s commitment to social responsibility has extended to other organizations such as Miriam’s Kitchen, the Wounded Warrior Project, Children’s National Medical Center, Maryland School for the Blind, and Junior Achievement of Greater Washington.
2016 Leukemia Ball’s Lineup
This year’s Leukemia Ball — presented by PhRMA, (the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America), on Saturday, March 12, at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center — will feature a distinctive lineup.
“Normally we have TV news anchors who are the emcees; this time will be more of a sports focus,” says Berson. The “Voice of the Redskins,” Larry Michael, will serve as emcee, while the Redskins’ former tight end, Chris Cooley, will also participate. Comedian Kathleen Madigan will perform, while the Canadian rock band Barenaked Ladies will close out the show. (Interesting fact: Paul McCartney once hailed the group for their harmonies, saying, “I don’t think John [Lennon] and myself ever had the sort of range they do.”)
In addition, this year’s event will include a Mercedes-Benz raffle drawing, which builds on the company’s 19-year participation in the event; this year’s grand prize is the 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLC300 4MATIC, valued at $40,950. Meanwhile, LLS has added a Young Professionals ticket and Future Leaders Committee to the ball; the young professionals’ ticket includes balcony seating, a dessert buffet, and wine and beer.
Two things are certain: You’ll have fun and contribute to a good cause, says Berson, adding, “It’s always the highlight of the year.”
When: Saturday, March 12
Where: Walter E. Washington Convention Center
For more information: Visit 2016 Leukemia Ball presented by PhRMA.