Volunteer Appreciation Week – Our Team In Training Volunteer!

Our final featured volunteer for Volunteer Appreciation Week is from Team In Training – Barbara Dahlke!

TNT - Barbara Dahlke

Barbara, a mentor for one of our cycling teams, got involved with Team In Training several years ago when her friend encouraged her to train for a marathon. Amazed by all of the incredible life-saving work from LLS, Barbara was reminded of her grandfather who passed from leukemia at the age of 34 and joined the Team In Training family. Although she never had the opportunity to meet her grandfather, she now feels a connection to him whenever she trains. After participating in her first event with Team In Training, Barbara decided to participate in a Sea Otter Century ride and within a few weeks of training, two of her college friends were diagnosed with cancer. Now her friend Ted, who is battling leukemia, is her cycle team’s honoree for the America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride in Lake Tahoe this year! She’s so excited for the event in June and can’t wait to see the huge smile on each team member’s face as they cross the finish line!

Thank you to all of our highlighted volunteers and to everyone who has ever dedicated their time and effort to LLS! We are so grateful for all of your incredible support!

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Volunteer Appreciation Week – Our Man & Woman of the Year Volunteer!

Today’s volunteer is one of our 2013 Man & Woman of the Year candidates, Jason Burkhart! Jason is truly committed to our cause, not only running for Man of the Year but continuing to be involved with The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) as now a committee member and event planner!

In 2013, Jason Burkhart was a candidate for LLS’s Man & Woman of the Year campaign, which started as a personal challenge to see how much money he could raise for a deserving cause. He did not have a personal connection to blood cancer but he did have a personal investment in pediatric cancer, as his now 14 year-old nephew was diagnosed with and overcame retinoblastoma as a toddler. He campaigned in his nephew’s honor but as the campaign progressed, his resolve strengthened, especially when he met the Boy & Girl of the Year. During his campaign, Jason hosted a comedy night fundraiser, which was such a success that he hosted it again this year and hopes to continue to hold it as an annual fundraising event to benefit LLS! Below is a picture of Jason with his wife Liz!


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Volunteer Appreciation Week – Our School & Youth Program Volunteer!

Today’s highlighted volunteer for Volunteer Appreciation Week is from our School & Youth Program and she is one incredibly dedicated and passionate teacher! She has led her school’s School & Youth Program’s Pennies for Patients campaign for a decade and has been involved with The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) for even longer – Katie Morse!!

Katie Morse is a teacher at Easterbrook Discovery School and because of Katie her school photohas participated in LLS’s Pennies for Patients campaign since 2004. Collectively her school has raised nearly $60,000, with more than $10,000 of that being raised this school year! Katie first got involved with LLS about 14 years ago, when she walked a marathon with Team In Training in memory of her grandfather. LLS is a charity that’s very close to her heart and she enjoys being involved with Pennies for Patients to honor her grandfather and all of the other loved ones she’s lost to blood cancer. Her favorite part of the program is witnessing the generosity and enthusiasm of her school’s community. All of the students, teachers and families work so hard each year to make it a success and help fight the battle against blood cancer!

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Volunteer Appreciation Week – Our Mission and Advocacy Volunteer!

If you’ve ever been to our San Jose office or have ever been to an event put on by The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) Greater Bay Area Chapter, you’ve probably met our next volunteer, Jack Aiello! He’s one of the most dedicated volunteers to ever work for the chapter and even has his own desk!

Jack Aiello is a 19-year multiple myeloma survivor. He was first introduced to LLS (back when the organization was called The Leukemia Society of America) at a support group meeting when he was diagnosed in 1995. In 2002, when Jack had to leave his post as a VP in marketing for a tech company and go on long-term disability from the side effects of his myeloma treatment, he started volunteering regularly with LLS. SONY DSCJack has been one of our longest-standing volunteers and comes into the office several times a week to help with nearly every LLS program, including mission, advocacy, Team In Training, Light The Night and First Connection.  He says in the last 12 years there hasn’t been one favorite part of volunteering with LLS but he particularly loves working with the staff, meeting campaign participants and sharing his story of diagnosis and recovery. We are so grateful for all of Jack’s support, volunteer work and help in the last 12 years!

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Volunteer Appreciation Week – Our Light The Night Walk Volunteer!

Often times our incredible volunteers are so passionate about our mission that they’re involved with more than one campaign, which is the case for many of the volunteers we’re highlighting this week. Today’s volunteer is no exception but she is particularly important to our Light The Night Walk campaign since she played a key role in orchestrating last year’s first ever Napa Valley Light The Night Walk – Alexis Stone!


Alexis Stone is an invaluable volunteer in the North Bay office of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS).  Shortly after the birth of her daughter Makenna in 2006, she was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma.  Since 2008, Alexis has participated in the Light The Night Walk in Santa Rosa and each year has been a top fundraising team.  Her dedication and determination to LLS helped bring the Light The Night Walk to Napa Valley in 2013.  Alexis continues to assist on the volunteer committees for both the Napa Valley Light The Night Walk and the North Bay Man & Woman of the Year campaign.  We can’t thank you enough, Alexis, for all you do for LLS!  You are a true asset to our organization.

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Volunteer Appreciation Week – Our Leukemia Cup Regatta Volunteer!

Today’s volunteer for Volunteer Appreciation Week works with our Leukemia Cup Regatta campaign – Chris Kostanecki! Chris is our Leukemia Cup Regatta Committee Co-Chair and an Honorary Skipper!

Chris was diagnosed in 1995 with a very rare form of lymphoma – anaplastic t-cell lymphoma. A survivor for 19 years, Chris and his children Nicholas (12) and Sophie (14) celebrate his survivorship together by competing in the Leukemia Cup Regetta every year on their J/70 sailboat named “Jennifer.” Chris says, “The LLS mission is a cause near and dear to me for obvious reasons. I support and fundraise for LLS every year. I enjoy the connection and being able to support other patients when they face challenges during diagnosis, treatment and recovery. Watching the Leukemia Cup Regatta grow with the support of The San Francisco Yacht Club, committee members, VIP speakers and the Bay Area sailing community is exciting and I am honored to be part of this amazing regatta.”

LCR - Chris Kostanecki with Ainslie

Here’s Chris (left) and his wife, Jennifer Kostanecki, with Sir Ben Ainslie at the 2013 Leukemia Cup Regatta VIP Dinner.

Chris is a member of the San Francisco Yacht Club and has raced in every single one of our Leukemia Cup Regattas (2006-2013).  To date, he’s raised a grand total of $75,015 for LLS!

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Celebrating Volunteer Appreciation Week!

There are so many incredible volunteers that generously donate their time and effort to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) to help fight blood cancer! This week is Volunteer Appreciation Week and we want to send a big thank you to everyone who has ever volunteered with our chapter or any LLS chapter across the country.

In celebration of Volunteer Appreciation Week, we will be highlighting a stellar volunteer each day from every department in our chapter. Today we will be featuring a very important donor development volunteer who has become a LLS celebrity in our chapter and nation-wide – Robert “Spider” Cantley!

Donor Development - Spider

Robert “Spider” Cantley, nicknamed after his long arms that came in handy as an instillation contractor, is the Greater Bay Area Chapter’s longest-standing and largest single fundraiser.  Spider has volunteered and fundraised for LLS for over 40 years, which has resulted in over $23 million raised through his efforts with Crippsmas Place, over 30 years of the KGO Radio Cure-A-Thon and his continuing annual fundraising campaign.  We would also like to recognize Spider’s wife, Jan Cantley, and their entire family for their incredible support.  A big thank you to Spider and his family for everything they’ve done to help fight blood cancer in the last 40 years!

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Kicking Off the 2014 Bay Area Man & Woman of the Year Campaign!

Last night The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) Greater Bay Area Chapter kicked off its 2014 Bay Area Man & Woman of the Year (MWOY) campaign!  The MWOY Kick Off Party marked the official start of the 2014 campaign for our 15 candidates.

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The energy and excitement at the Kick Off Party was contagious, especially with our Boy & Girl of the Year, Roman and Aubrey, and one of our young adult honorees, Cherry, mingling with the crowd.  Each of the candidates were introduced by their nominator and one of the candidates, Catherine Courage, challenged the group to collectively raise $1 million dollars this year – the challenge was met with a round of cheer and applause!  At the end of our program, Tom Klein, our chapter’s board chair, announced Marc Hopkins and Anjou Ahlborn as the winners of the Midnight Madness Challenge.  Marc and Anjou were the first man and woman to receive $1,000 in donations just after the campaign started at midnight on Wednesday and both received a matching gift of $500 for winning the challenge!

We are thrilled to announce our 2014 Bay Area MWOY candidates! Click on their names to learn more or donate to their campaign:

Alton Moore
Amanda Lee
Anjou Ahlborn
Brad Carrick
Catherine Courage
Chrissy Delisle
David San Jose
Don Pangilinan
Elina Elek
Gil Cheso
Harriet Stricklen
Jason Putorti
Marc Hopkins
Tim Shaw
Tom Watson

The MWOY campaign is an annual 10-week fundraising competition between community leaders united by one goal – to use their leadership skills to raise funds to help blood cancer patients live longer and more fulfilling lives.  Every dollar counts as one vote and the man and woman with the most votes at the end of the campaign win the prestigious honor, which has been given to leaders throughout the Bay Area community for over 20 years.  The candidates compete in honor of the Bay Area Boy & Girl of the Year, Roman and Aubrey, who are both blood cancer survivors.

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The Man & Woman of the Year will be announced at the Grand Finale Celebration on June 7, 2014 at The Fairmont San Francisco Hotel.  Tickets for the Grand Finale Celebration are on sale now and can be purchased online by clicking here.

Good luck to all of our incredible Bay Area candidates!

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Guest Blog – How I Met My California Family – Nickole Powe, Moms In Training coach

When I think about Team In Training and The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS), the first word that comes to mind is family.  Five years ago my husband and I moved from Ontario, Canada all the way across the continent to San Jose, California. We both left behind our family and friends for a strange new world where it never snows and a house costs as much as a mansion. As a way to meet new people, run my first marathon and support my uncle who was recently diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, I joined Team In Training. Unbeknownst to me, on a cold rainy day in February 2009, I met people who over the next 5 years would become my California family.

Nickole 3

As they say in Team In Training, I “drank the purple cool-aid” and was hooked. To be honest, who wouldn’t be? I got to hang out with some amazing people who not only survived cancer but could kick my butt on the track. I met their families and heard about what they went through while they were supporting their loved ones. I shared stories of my family and my uncle who biked along with me when I did my first marathon in his hometown 1,000 miles away. I watched as perfect strangers fell in love on the track, got married and started families. I helped people achieve their fitness goals. I did all of this with my California family, who season after season dedicated themselves to LLS and their fitness goals.

In 2012, after years of putting up with my post-run smell and cheering on the sidelines, my husband was finally convinced to join the team. It was perfect timing since our own little family was about to grow. I coached the team and lead core workouts until the last month of my pregnancy. In December my beautiful son was born. The importance of the cause was brought even closer to my heart when we had to spend a month with him at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital over Christmas, right next to the cancer ward. I was so uplifted by the spirit of the children, some of who have never left the hospital and continue to fight for their life every day.  I love spending time with my son but I knew I had to get back to my California family and raise money until the cancer ward no longer exists.

Just when I needed it the most, LLS was there for me again with an awesome new program called Moms In Training and an opportunity to coach the South Bay team. Moms In Training is an 9-week social workout program that culminates with the See Jane Run 5K Stroller Stride on June 22nd.  Obviously I was hooked from the start and really excited to be part of the team that is bringing this new program to the South Bay for the first time ever. The best part is I get to coach the program and workout with my favorite little buddy and his orange stroller.  How cool is it that I’m able to get out with my son, get some exercise, raise money for an awesome cause and meet other moms in the same sleepy zombie state as me?

Nickole 2

We have a lot of exciting things planned for the inaugural Bay Area Moms In Training season, such as a park-to-park workout, yoga with the kids, and run/walk and play dates at various locations throughout the South Bay. It should be a blast and a great way to combine all my favorite things and continue to unite my little family with my LLS family. Training starts in April and we can’t wait for you and your family to join us!

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Guest Blog: Finding Happiness Through Leukemia – Lisa Watson, Light The Night and Team In Training participant

After the initial shock of receiving my diagnosis of chronic myeloid leukemia on April 11, 2011, my daughter Alexandra wanted to do something meaningful in my honor. After researching options, she learned about The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) Light The Night Walk and registered as a team captain for both herself and me. Before being diagnosed I literally knew nothing about blood cancers and although I had heard of Light The Night, I was not sure what it was all about. Once we began promotion for our Light The Night team, it was astounding to discover how many people wanted to support us. We didn’t have much trouble meeting our goal of raising $1,000 and even exceeded it. The night of the walk was purely magical. Nothing could have prepared me for the number of people who came out to support Light The Night as well as the inspirational mood of the entire event. It was reassuring to learn that there were so many others out there who were affected by blood cancer and I was not alone.

Lisa Watson 1

The following year for the Light The Night Walk, I volunteered to be the team captain for the Kaiser Permanente Team in Santa Rosa where I’ve worked for over 25 years. Our team quickly grew to over 30 walkers and we raised over $6,000! It was so motivating that I volunteered to be the team captain again for the 2013 Light The Night Kaiser Permanente Team, where we had over 40 walkers and were one of the top corporate fundraising teams!

In 2012 another amazing experience occurred. My very good friend Virginia (a Team In Training alumni who is about to participate in her second Lavaman Triathlon) asked if I would be an honoree for her Team In Training cycling team for America’s Beautiful Bike Ride (AMBBR). As an honoree, I was so touched and excited that I attended the event in Lake Tahoe, created colorful signs and cheered at the rest stop for all of the riders as they cycled past me on their 100 mile journey. That was the moment I decided that I would participate in the 2013 AMBBR ride with Team In Training.

I figured that if all of these amazing people could give up every Saturday during the training season, as well as raise close to $3,000 each, I needed to give back and do the same! I soon found a bike and from the moment the cycling team training began, I was inspired. I couldn’t have asked for a better support network of people who believed in me and wanted me to succeed – even when I thought I couldn’t. I couldn’t imagine cycling 100 miles around beautiful Lake Tahoe, but I did and was motivated by the love and support of my amazing family, friends and the Team In Training team.

A little bit of tenacity can go a long way – 100 miles, in fact! The day of the race, my brother did an incredible thing to help me make my journey around the lake. He and his two kids created a dozen signs with my picture and the words “Go Lisa Go”, got up early on the day of the ride, drove the entire route and posted the signs along the route. Imagine my shock as I was pedaling with all my might and look up to see a picture of myself! During the last stage of the ride, after being on my bike saddle for over 10 hours, alone and struggling up the last big hill with tears in my eyes, a cyclist passed me and noticed one of the signs and said “Wow, how cool is that?” Hearing a stranger being impressed with this suddenly provided me with a surge of determination to get this ride done!

Lisa Watson 2

I’m now training for my second AMBBR ride and chose to be a mentor to share my experience and provide encouragement to others making this huge commitment. I’m also my team’s SAG (support and gear) Captain, ensuring the team has ride support throughout the season. I love being able to give back to Team in Training & LLS for all the assistance they’ve helped me with.

The most surprising change with my life since being diagnosed with leukemia is how much it has transformed me in such a positive way. I can honestly say that I’m in a better place, emotionally and physically, and I love my life! I believe in always looking for the silver lining and I most definitely found it through LLS!

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