This piece first appeared on WashingtonExec on February 25, 2015.
On Saturday, March 28, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) will host its 2015 Leukemia Ball. This annual black-tie event starts at 6:30 p.m. and will be held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, in Washington, D.C.
The evening will include entertainment from Michael Cavanaugh and Howie Mandel, along with a reception, silent auction, dinner, Mercedes-Benz raffle and dancing. Since 1988, the annual Leukemia Ball has raised nearly $50 million for the fight against leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma. The silent auction at the 2014 Leukemia Ball raised approximately $307,000.
The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), which represents the country’s leading biopharmaceutical researchers and biotechnology companies, is the Presenting Sponsor of this year’s Ball. John Castellani, CEO of PhRMA, recently spoke with WashingtonExec about his involvement with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, as well as this year’s Ball.
WashingtonExec: Why are you involved with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society?
John Castellani: PhRMA and The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society share a dedication to the research and discovery of new treatments to help patients live longer, healthier lives. In fact, LLS is the world’s largest voluntary health organization dedicated to funding blood cancer research, with nearly $80 million invested in 2014,
We are proud to once again be the Presenting Sponsor at this year’s Leukemia Ball and stand in support of LLS’s mission to find a cure for these devastating diseases and improve the quality of life of patients and their families.
WashingtonExec: How are PhRMA member companies helping to advance the mission of LLS?
John Castellani: PhRMA member companies dedicate a significant amount of time and resources to develop innovative leukemia and lymphoma treatments that will help save lives. Currently, 104 medicines are in development for leukemia and 89 for lymphoma. Across all diseases, these biopharmaceutical companies have invested over $550 billion in the search for new treatments and cures since 2000, including an estimated $51.1 billion in 2013 alone.
WashingtonExec: What makes the Ball stand out among the other black ties in the region?
John Castellani: The Leukemia Ball is one of the largest non-political black-tie events in Washington, D.C., raising nearly $50 million for the fight against leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma since it started in 1988. This event is also an important opportunity to honor the outstanding accomplishments of the people behind the progress made in blood cancer research. That is one of the reasons the theme of this year’s ball is “Inspired” – I expect that guests will leave inspired to keep up the fight and support the science and the researchers behind this important cause.
WashingtonExec: How are your fundraising efforts going so far?
John Castellani: Last year, the LLS ball raised $3 million toward leukemia and lymphoma research, and the goal is to exceed that amount in 2015. Nearly 2,000 guests are expected to attend, so I am confident that LLS will continue to make great strides in blood cancer research with this signature fundraising event.
WashingtonExec: What are you most looking forward to at this year’s event?
John Castellani: I’m looking forward to several things. First and foremost, I love meeting patients and hearing their stories. They are nothing short of inspirational and the reason this work is so important. I also enjoy talking to the advocates and individuals who have dedicated themselves to the mission of finding cures and improving the quality of life of patients. And, I am also looking forward to exceeding the $3.1 million fundraising goal for leukemia and lymphoma research.
WashingtonExec: How can companies and individuals become involved with The Leukemia Lymphoma Society and The Leukemia Ball?
John Castellani: You can make a donation online at donate.lls.org or visit the Leukemia Ball’s website at www.leukemiaball.org. All funds will benefit the mission of LLS, which directs 76 percent of its expenditures to research, patient and community services, advocacy and education.