WashingtonExec recently spoke with leaders and supporters of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society about their work and the organization’s upcoming Light the Night fundraiser. The responses below are from Melissa Foster, campaign development manager of Light the Night for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Mid-Atlantic Region; and John Steckel, vice president of business development at AMERICAN SYSTEMS. Steckel is also a member of this year’s LLS Mid-Atlantic Light the Night executive committee.
What is The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society?
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s mission is to cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families. We aim to fulfill our mission through three main categories: research, patient access and policy and advocacy. To learn more about LLS and our main priorities, please visit our website.
What is Light the Night?
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Light the Night Walk brings light to the darkness of cancer by funding lifesaving research and support for people battling cancer. Family, friends and coworkers gather together to celebrate, honor or remember those touched by cancer. Registration is free, but walkers are encouraged to raise funds to support the mission.
“We have many types of teams that participate in Light the Night: corporate teams, friends and family teams, and school teams,” Foster said. “We work with them to build fundraising plans that work with each of their unique styles.”
These efforts culminate in inspirational, memorable evening experiences filled with music, family-friendly activities and empowering ceremonies honoring survivors and remembering those we have lost.
“I first found The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society as a volunteer who was walking in memory of my grandfather who we lost in 2001 after his long battle with multiple myeloma,” Foster said. “I was immediately struck by how uplifting and inspirational the whole experience was. Today, I am so thankful to be working for an organization that is revolutionary in its approach to curing cancer. So much so that the treatments they come out with are helping so many other patients in their cancer journeys outside of blood cancer diagnoses alone.”
Please join us and nearly 1 million others in the 140 walks across North America. Join one of our five local DMV area walk events here.
What happened during the Light the Night Executive Launch on June 2, 2021?
“Local corporations like AMERICAN SYSTEMS and their leaders came together for our virtual Light the Night Executive Launch in June to learn about The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, our Light The Night Events and how they and their corporations could get involved in them,” Foster said. “There are four main ways to get involved: form a corporate Light the Night team, sponsor one of our local Light the Night events, form a retail partnership with Light the Night, and/or participate in the executive challenge that will begin in September.”
To learn more about getting your company involved with Light the Night, please visit: https://www.lightthenight.org/mid-atlantic/article/corporate-engagement?src1=6858506&src2=
Why should companies get involved in Light the Night?
At the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, our mission begins and ends with the ever-powerful word “cure.” We are focused on curing blood cancers through our three pillars of research, patient access and advocacy.
Light the Night is our largest community experience where we partner with corporate and community leaders to bring light to the darkness of cancer and raise funds to drive our mission forward. Within Light the Night, we’ve built a robust corporate engagement program to serve our mission while meeting the unique needs facing our corporate partners today. Our goal is to build stronger partnerships with companies to engage their employees in meaningful ways. The program consists of four key components:
First, leadership development: Light the Night offers leadership development opportunities at every level of your organization: executives, managers and young professionals.
Second, employee team building: Brought to life through motivational projects designed to create connectivity and collaboration across your employee base.
Third, community and social responsibility: Creating deeper social engagement internally and in your community by partnering with a brand dedicated to meeting the diverse needs of cancer patient populations.
And finally, employee support: Including access to critical cancer resources should they or a loved one face a diagnosis.
The latest research shows that engaged employees show up every day with passion, purpose and energy. Light the Night’s corporate engagement program provides an innovative, turn-key way to involve your company in creating this essential component of corporate culture as we partner together to bring light to the darkness of cancer.
Check out our swipe deck for more information.
How did AMERICAN SYSTEMS become involved in Light the Night, and how has the company chosen to engage with Light the Night?
Our relationship with Light the Night began before I got to AMERICAN SYSTEMS, but my understanding is that it started in the early 2000s when one of our employees, who had walked the previous year, convinced others to join her.
Our involvement grew when one of our former CEOs, Elliot Needleman, who was battling lymphoma at the time, became an outspoken spokesperson and fundraiser for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. When Elliot succumbed to the disease in 2005, Light the Night became our focal charitable cause, and many of our employees still walk in his memory today.
Our engagement every year starts months before the actual walk itself, and over the years, we’ve raised awareness and funds through creative events that get all our employee-owners engaged. We’ve held ‘Carnivals for a Cause’ complete with executive dunk tanks. We sell raffle tickets for a paid day off — a great fundraiser. Silent auctions, bake sales, you name it. From coast to coast, our employee-owners rally ‘round the LTN flag!”
What corporate impact has AMERICAN SYSTEMS seen because of its involvement with Light the Night?
We have a great culture that emphasizes, among other things, social responsibility, and Light the Night fits nicely. It’s a great way for us to bond, not just during the walk itself, but in the months preceding the walks. It’s really become part of the fabric of AMERICAN SYSTEMS.
Why is it important to you personally to support LLS?
“My family, like many others, has been personally affected by cancer,” Steckel said. “My wife is a cancer survivor, so I feel I understand what others are going through when they or a loved one discover they have cancer. It’s a traumatic time and one where you need a support system to help you cope. LLS does so much to not only help fight cancers, but also help families work through fighting cancer themselves. Supporting LLS let me help them help others.”
What are some things about LLS you were surprised to learn when you became involved?
“Although LLS focuses on blood cancers, the work they do impacts the fight against all cancers,” Steckel said. “The research they do on the disease, treatments, therapies etc. applies to any type of cancer. So, when you support LLS’ fight against leukemia and lymphomas, you’re also supporting their fight against all cancer.”
How can people get involved in supporting LLS now?
There are so many ways that individuals can get involved in supporting The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society!
Fundraise: When you give your time and talent to LLS, you become part of a diverse, vibrant community of supporters from all walks of life who are helping us cure blood cancers. Many choose to fundraise for us in one of our many fundraising campaigns. Check out how you can get involved in one of our campaigns here.
Volunteer: At The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, volunteers are superheroes who power our mission every day. From raising critical funds to driving forward policies that benefit patients to providing support to families, our volunteers are changing the future of blood cancer treatment and care. Explore our many ways to volunteer with us here: https://www.lls.org/volunteer
Advocate: The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Office of Public Policy advocates on behalf of blood cancer patients and their families, to enact policies that will address the serious burdens of these diseases. Add your voice to ours and learn more here: https://www.lls.org/policy-advocacy
Would you like to learn more about The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Light The Night and how you can get involved? Please reach out to Melissa Foster at Melissa.Foster@lls.org.