In Episode 10 of Meet Houston Missions, we meet with Shauna Huffington, the Campaign Development Director for the Texas Gulf Coast Region of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. The Leukemia Society was founded in 1949 by the parent of Robbie Roesler de Villiers, a young man who was taken by Leukemia in 1944 at the age of 16. It was later renamed the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society or LLS.
Today, LLS is dedicated to curing leukemia, lymphoma, myeloma, and other blood cancers. The organization funds millions of dollars in research and provided patient services ranging from filing insurance claims to finding doctors.
Helping Patients and Their Families
For those who have been diagnosed with blood cancer, LLS provides a hotline staffed with masters-level oncology nurses and translators speaking multiple languages. By calling 800-955-4572, patients and their families can access a wealth of patient resources including, doctor referrals, educational resources, mentors, and assistance with appeals.
Since 1949, LLS has provided over 1.3 billion dollars to researchers studying blood cancers. Currently, there are 11 researchers funded in Houston hospitals including Baylor & UT for a total of 12 million in grants. The LLS also spearheads the Children’s Initiative which is a 100 million dollar worldwide initiative to develop cures for childhood cancer. Since the organization’s inception, the survival rate of childhood cancer for children under the age of 15 has gone from a 3% survival rate to a 90% survival rate.
LLS hosts two major fundraisers. One is in the spring and the other in the fall. These fundraisers rely on teams of individuals as well as private and corporate sponsors.
The spring event is The Big Climb. Participants climb up 50 flights of stairs in Downtown Houston to raise money and awareness.
The fall event in Houston is their big event which has drawn 5000 plus people at past events. This is their Light the Night event where people gather and walk at night with color-coded balloons that signify supporters, survivors, and victims of blood cancers. At the end, there is a fireworks show. Learn about Light The Night here: https://www.lightthenight.org/events/houston.
In addition to the above fundraisers, their Galas include Man/Woman of the Year and Students of the Year. These involve a secret fundraising competition that goes on during the year and winners are then revealed at their Gala.
Volunteers and Donors
Volunteers are needed for each of the events described above. Additionally, mentors—people who have survived blood cancer—are always needed to speak to people currently walking the walk. You can contact Information Services at 800-955-4572 to get more information on volunteering. Anyone wishing to donate outside of participating in the above events can also call the Information Services number to learn more or visit LLS.org.