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Dr. Leo Luznik, Dr. Patrick Brown, Dr. Mark Levis, Dr. Judith Karp, Dr. Aaron Rapoport, Dr. Carl June pose at the Journey of Hope reception.
Dr. Leo Luznik, Dr. Patrick Brown, Dr. Mark Levis, Dr. Judith Karp, Dr. Aaron Rapoport, Dr. Carl June pose at the Journey of Hope reception. (Submitted Photo by Jim Gordon , Carroll County Times)

Leukemia & Lymphoma Society celebrated achievements of many guests attending the 10th annual "Journey of Hope" reception and dinner hosted by Darlene and Steve de Castro, in their beautiful Crystal Room, Ruth's Chris Steak House, located in Pikesville.

LLS is dedicated to funding cancer research, education, patient services and advocacy for lifesaving treatments. They've funded more blood cancer research than any other nonprofit organization.

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Research physicians Dr. Mark Levis and Dr. Mark June have accomplished incredible miraculous work, saving blood cancer patients lives! Recognizing this, all the attendees at this "Journey of Hope" event gave the above a well-earned standing ovations.

Caring physician, Dr. Judith (Judy) Karp, director of the Adult Leukemia Program at the Sydney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, Johns Hopkins Hospital and a sweetheart is retiring this year.

Introduced by the executive director, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Dr. Karp, is a very personable, very likeable, very caring devoted physician as well as a dedicated researcher and volunteer with LLS. She is very passionate about curing blood cancers. She is a very proud, involved dedicated advocate of LLS. Thousands of patients have been under the care of Dr. Karp.

When she first got involved with the LLS in 1993, there was a $6 million budget. Currently, there is a $68 million budget, thus making it possible for cancer researchers to do outstanding up-to-date research plus making dollars available for LLS to provide patient programs and services.

Locally, LLS has generously funded 11 researchers in Maryland. Among the research physicians attending this event Dr. Patrick Brown, Dr. Eduardo Davila, Dr. Carl June, Dr. Mark Levis, Dr. Leo Luznik and Dr. Joel Pomerantz.

Nationally, LLS allocated approximately $68.4 million dollars to fund lifesaving research and to improve the quality of life for blood cancer patients and their families. Fantastic!

Dr. Mark Levis, an associate professor of Oncology at Johns Hopkins, a scholar in clinical research is currently working with an LLS 5-year grant. As mentioned above, Dr. Levis and Dr. Carl June have done miraculous work in research and saving blood cancer patients lives.

Note: Since 2001 LLS has invested over $20 million in outstanding pioneering work of Dr. Carl June and his fab SCOR (Specialized Center of Research) team.

Prior to this evening's interesting program, Millennium Pharmaceuticals hosted an interesting educational program for oncology physicians.

Matt Hjortsberg is Maryland Chapter board president, extending welcome to everyone, further discussing his dedicated involvement with LLS.

Jon Rosa, our local chapter's top notch executive director Leukemia & Lymphoma Society informed the guests with current updates:

Our local chapter has successfully raised nearly $4 million to fund research and patient services.

Through LLS Navigator Program, the organization has provided availability for the care of 458 under-served and under-represented blood cancer patients that live mostly in the inner-city and Baltimore County, making available the very best knowledge and access for their variable blood cancer treatments.

LLS Patient Services supported thousands of patients locally through its First Connection Program. This includes support groups, educational programs, student reintegration program plus critical advocacy efforts both at state and local levels.

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Note: Under the "Affordable Care Act," stating they will soon be establishing exchanges where individuals can purchase health care coverage, LLS submitted that the health exchanges should include cancer patients to have access to affordable comprehensive care including a full range of therapies for patients and controls on out of pocket expenses for patients. Plus creating a score card that blood cancer patients and their caregivers can better decide and evaluate which plans offer the critical benefits that best meets their own individual needs.

Special recognition and gargantuan thanks Darlene and Steve de Castro. Over the past 15 years, Steve has successfully chaired the Ruth's Chris ultra successful "Sizzling Golf Classic" fun(d) raising over a phenomenal $2 million to enhance LLS multi-lifesaving missions!

Accolades also Isabel (Izzy) and Bruce Cleland, founders TNT (Team-in-Training) a charity endurance sports training programs involving coaches preparing participants to succeed in sports. This TNT program has raised over $1.2 billion since its inception in 1988! Last year 2012, a phenomenal $81 million was fun(d) raised!

Plus, an added bonus, Izzy and Bruce Cleland's lovely daughter Georgia, is also very involved with LLS! Last year Georgia very successfully individually fun(d) raised a fab $15,200! Thank you Georgia!

Also thanked this evening was Mary Keen, who fun(d) raised a great sum of $14,000! Thanks Mary!

Gargantuan thanks CareFirst BlueShield funded the 2012 LLS Cares Patient Navigator Program. Their employees also fun(d) raised dollars to benefit the wonderful work of LLS.

More thanks, the Robert Post family for establishing the "Amanda Wins Fund." Mega thanks John Dodge and the entire Leukemia Cup regatta team fun(d) raised over $175,000 that was justifiably acknowledged as the 8th top fun(d) raisers in the country. Fantabulous!

More appreciation and thanks were extended to Towson University Dept. of Family Studies and Development (Dr. Sharon Jones-Eversley) for enabling LLS to be recipient of the 2013 Mutual of America nonprofit partner of the year award; Old Mill Middle-School (Matt Smith, students and staff) in Anne Arundel for their participation with LLS "Pennies for Patients Program fundraising more than $65,000, a phenomenal amount; Also Coard Simpler for assisting at patient and professional educational programs. And, Harkins Builders and Dave Borowski for the past 10 years involved with "Light the Night" fun(d) raising over $208,000. Great!

Additional thanks to volunteers Bernie Gerst, the organization's "volunteer of the year" involved with everything in every LLS organization event. Thank you new dedicated office staffer volunteer Dotti Spriggs. Plus Matt Hjortsberg, Dr. Judith Karp, all the additional volunteers involved with the LLS organization plus Dr. Doug Miller, Maryland Chapter Man of the Year and Woman of the Year, Blaney Spinelli, campaign Man & Woman of the year fun(d) raised over $290 thousand! A fantabulous amount of dollars garnered in only a few months! Hats off also to LLS coordinators Man & Woman of the year event leaders, John Calloggero, John Evans, Brian Walsh and coordinators Beth Prensky and Kim Lennon.

Also attending this interesting "Journey of Hope" event including the above listed, Michael Osso, senior vice president National LLS office, Linda and Harvey Litofsky, JoAnne Rapoport, Stacey Stern, Harriet and Dr. Herb Rosen, Ilene and Phil Spector and others too numerable to list due to space limitations.

Assisting behind the scenes of "Journey of Hope," Jon Rosa, whom I thank for keeping this columnist updated, Jackie Stem, Beth Prensky, Kim Lennon, Georgia Cleland, Shelley Lewis, Danielle Bormel, Tricia Sturm, Nicole Bear, Shawn Osmeyer and Ryan Hatcher.

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Upcoming fun(d) raising event for LLS is the "Man & Woman of the Year," its date soon to be announced. Note: Last year there were 71 campaigns in North America, 800 candidates participated, fun(d) raising a phenomenal record-breaking ($19.2 million) to benefit blood cancer patients through LLS research and patient services. James (Jim) Gordon was event photog.

To make a contribution, please mail to Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, 100 Painters Mill Road, #800; Owings Mills, MD, 21117. For more info regarding upcoming events call 443-471-1600. Thanking you in advance! You can also enquire about Legacy tax deductions.

Tremendous thanks to LLS mission to cure leukemia, lymphoma, hodgkins disease, myeloma and to improve the quality of life of patients and their families.

Note: Every four minutes someone is diagnosed with a blood cancer. Unfortunately, every 10 minutes someone loses their life's battle against these illnesses!

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