One of the nation’s powerhouse cancer fundraisers put its spotlight on Utah this month as Social5 joined forces with top business groups across the state to raise critical research funding in the battle against blood cancers.
The result: More than half a million dollars raised during a corporate walk dubbed “Light The Night.” Now, that financial afterglow will help power the Utah Chapter of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) in its ongoing effort to fund research, find cures and ensure access to treatments for blood cancer patients.
“Almost one in three women will hear the words in their lifetime, ‘You have cancer,’ and almost half of men,” said Social5 CEO Rob Wellman, who was tapped by the LLS to be the corporate walk chair for the Oct. 13 event. “I really wanted to fight for those in the future who might be impacted by cancer.”
For Wellman, the commitment is personal. The mother of his childhood best friend, “a kind of second mother,” died of cancer as did another close family friend. As walk chair, Wellman reached out to his broad business network for donations and shepherded nearly $10,000 from Social5 alone.
With walks in more than 150 markets from coast to coast, Light The Night has more than 1.5 million participants. The Social5-anchored walk, held at Library Square in downtown Salt Lake City, culminated with the crowd holding lanterns aloft as the soft glow illuminated the night sky.
As the third leading cancer killer of Americans, blood cancers are diagnosed every three minutes and fatal every nine. More than a third of blood cancer patients do not survive five years after diagnosis. And more than 1.3 million Americans are living with or in remission from leukemia, lymphoma or myeloma.
Last year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved 18 therapies to treat patients with blood cancers, and LLS supported 15 of them. So far this year, the FDA has approved 10 blood cancer therapies, and LLS has supported eight of these at some point in their development.
One survivor, who has redoubled his passion to help others, was at the Salt Lake City walk. Derek Maxfield was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia in his early 20s. During treatment, a terminal fellow patient and friend implored him to live for both men, to do something impactful.
Maxfield initially founded a successful software company, earning enough money to retire. After suffering a basketball injury, Maxfield would eventually land in the same hospital room where his late friend had been treated for cancer years earlier. He says he felt the presence of his friend urging him to do something significant in life.
He used his software fortune, and later, revenue from a makeup company, to found The Younique Foundation. Maxfield has since opened The Haven retreat for women who have been sexually abused.
“Here’s a guy who has taken that second chance and done remarkable things for humanity,” Wellman says. Maxfield was invited to speak during Light The Night.
Social5 would like to thank all the generous donors and everyone who attended this inspiring event. Given the frenetic pace of cancer research by the LLS, your money could very well manifest as somebody’s second chance.
The Executive Challenge participants — the top donors — will be recognized at the annual Light The Night awards celebration in January.
If you’re still interested in donating to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society click here: https://pages.lightthenight.org/ut/saltlake18/Social5