Even though asking for money initially may be the toughest step in fundraising according to Joshua Baker, he did enough asking to become the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) Gateway Chapter Man of the Year. In his third successive try, Baker’s “Cancer Sucks” Pub Crawl team earned $16,500 for local blood cancer patients and researchers. The money raised by candidates is used by LLS to fund research-seeking cures, better therapies and to provide information and support so that patients have the best possible outcomes throughout their cancer diagnosis.
“This is just one of our campaigns that allow the Gateway Chapter of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society to assist more than 5,000 local patients and their families with financial aid, co-pay assistance, support groups, and education. The money raised also allows LLS to provide information in more than 530 schools on cancer and volunteerism and support children returning to school after treatment,” Debbie Kersting, the Gateway Chapter’s Executive Director, said in a statement.
During the ten-week fundraising period, Man (and Woman) of the year candidates were judged solely on their success in generating funds to advance the mission of the LLS. Every dollar raised counted as one vote. Baker had the most dollars raised in the region and was awarded the 2012 title at a grand finale celebration. Baker, who was born in Crestwood and raised in Sunset Hills, competed in honor of LLS’ Boy & Girl of the Year, local children who are blood cancer survivors and sources of inspiration to others.
“I was very excited (when I found out about Man of the Year) because this is my third campaign. I got third place two years ago, second place last year,” Baker said. “My friends and family were always like ‘When are you going to win.’ They joke that I’m in it just to get my name on a billboard.”
Joking aside, Baker’s cousin had worked with LLS’ Team in Training in the past and had pushed Baker to go to a meeting. He said no—until his cousin was diagnosed with skin cancer.
“They caught it pretty early on, but then she asked me again and I was like, ‘OK.’ She didn’t get a blood cancer, but she wanted me to focus on that part of it,” he said.
Even though Baker’s name is in competition for national Man of the Year, he said he wouldn’t even know how to start raising $250,000, which is around where most winners’ funds reach. He said even though asking is the hard part, it was a little easier with LLS’ help. They gave him ideas on how to fundraise initially and one of them was a Dogtown pub crawl. Friends and family helped coordinate volunteers, shirts, hats, etc.
“Generally speaking, if you ask someone, they are more than willing to help,” he said.
Altogether, Man & Woman of the Year candidates raised more than $350,000 for local blood cancer patients and researchers.