Earlier this month the D.C.-region's Leukemia & Lymphoma Society named this year's "Man and Woman of the Year" at their annual gala sponsored by local businesses.
"We were fortunate to have candidates that have a lot of individual drive and, in many cases, who were either survivors or who have a family member who's a survivor or who have been stricken by the disease," said Stan Gutkowski, managing partner of USA government practice for Accenture.
Gutkowski said Accenture, a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company based in Reston, became a key contributor to the gala four years ago.
"We've been involved with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society for many years," said Gutkowski. "They have gained momentum over time, and there has been a noticeable increase in involvement in the program."
This year's "Man and Woman of the Year" candidates for the D.C.-region's Society raised more than $302,000 for blood cancer research.
"This campaign has grown by leaps and bounds," said Tammy Moloy, deputy executive director for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Alexandria office. "It's one of the fastest growing health charities of it's time."
Moloy said the society has 62 chapters nationally, 42 of which compete in the "Man and Woman of the Year" campaign, but she said the D.C.-region typically raises the most money.
Gutkowski, who is also a board member for the society, said one possible reason for an increase in participation could be the candidates' dedication.
"They have been blessed with a lot of volunteers," he said. "D.C. does have a lot of people who do believe they need to give back to society."
Tony Hobbs-Boiardi, this year's "Man of the Year" recipient, put it bluntly. "We live in a town where we have a more disposable income than other areas," said Boiardi, who moved from England to Arlington six years ago. "There's an affluent society in D.C. where charities are a social part of our day-to-day infrastructure."
Boiardi was named "Man of the Year" for raising more than $52,000 with his campaign to bicycle across America in 30 days.
"I was tired of social parties to raise money," said the Hodgkin's Disease survivor and father of two. "That kind of loses the message that these kids are in pain ... I wanted to do something to encapsulate that."
Tamara Christian, "Woman of the Year" recipient, said she never thought of her campaign as a competition but that the combative nature of her employees helped her win.
"I had a support system like you couldn't believe," said Christian, president of National Trade Productions, Inc., an Alexandria-based trade show and conference management company. "People in my company took it upon themselves to come up with ideas [to raise money]."
Christian, who raised more than $82,000, said the Society "never really set expectations" for the amount of money candidates should try to raise, but her ambition came from those she knew who had died from the disease.
"A lot of people in my life have been touched by Leukemia and Lymphoma," said Christian. "It's gotten to the point where I am afraid to answer the phone."
"THE MONEY that the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society raised really does go to help," said Moloy. "It goes toward research to cure blood cancers and they want to improve the quality of life of patients and their families."
Boiardi and Christian combined raised more than $134,000.
Moloy said the gala honored this year's eight candidates as well as the "Boy and Girl of the Year," who the candidates were fundraising for in their honor.
This year's "Woman of the Year" candidates raised money for Max Robinson, "Boy of the Year." Robinson was diagnosed in 2002 at 5-years old with pre-B cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia. After one month of treatment the disease went into remission, and Robinson is now a healthy first-grader.
The "Men of the Year" candidates campaigned in honor of Caitlin Cramblit, "Girl of the Year." Crambilt was diagnosed in 1999, at two-years old, with acute lymphocytic leukemia. After a long period of intense treatments, she is now enjoying the first grade.
The next stage in the campaign is the national champion title, where the winners from the 42 competing chapters are compared and the "National Man and Woman of the Year" title is given.