School’s Out! Summer’s In!

School’s Out! Summer’s In!

Splashing in the pool… The jingle of an ice cream truck… Lazy, carefree afternoons… Summertime. It’s here. Kids across the country are rejoicing. Last summer, however, there was one 8-year-old whose summer vacation came to an abrupt end. Little Gage was diagnosed with Leukemia and those days at the pool were replaced with days of chemotherapy.

Gage sporting some new shades in the
photobooth with one of his buddies.

“Every four minutes, someone new is diagnosed with blood cancer,” says Sean Simpson, Executive Director of the Oklahoma chapter of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. “The mission of LLS is to cure leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma, and to improve the quality of life of patients and their families.”

As the world’s largest voluntary health agency dedicated to blood cancer, LLS invested $75 million in research and $50 million to help patients afford treatment last year. To provide this kind of assistance, they have to do fundraisers. BIG fundraisers!

One of the group’s most popular events is the Man & Woman of the Year (MWOY) fundraising competition held in communities across the US. Participants compete against each other to raise the most money in honor of a local child who is a blood cancer survivor. In Oklahoma City, Julie Boyd took the lead for Team Gage.

“Our goal was to raise $50,000,” Julie said, “because at that level we got to choose where our funds went and we could name it in honor of Gage.” Julie and her “Dream Team” rolled up their sleeves and got busy. They sent out over 800 letters and multiple emails asking for donations. They secured corporate sponsorships and matching gifts. And they planned some incredible events!

“Since these funds were for children, we thought we should do something involving children!” Julie said. Enter the Team Gage Carnival! Complete with games, a magician, live music, super heroes and Elsa from “Frozen”, the event was a hit. The team sold 27 vendor booths and held both live and silent auctions.

The team also organized a bowling tournament at Red Pin Restaurant and Bowling Lounge that included 20 teams. At the event, they sold beautiful Team Gage t-shirts designed by Jennifer Hayworth and produced by ROBYN to raise even more money. Grab one of these limited edition shirts before they are gone!

The “Dream Team” consisted of seven women who dedicated 10 weeks of their lives to raise money to battle blood cancer. And they were successful! At the Grand Finale Gala at the end of the MWOY competition, they had raised over $62,000, making Julie Boyd the Woman of the Year! “The seven of us were never together in the same room until that night,” Julie said. “We had each worked on different aspects of the campaign. It was wonderful to celebrate together!”

Gage is doing well and is continuing his treatments. You can keep up with him on the Hope for Gage Facebook page. “Cancer is tough,” says Gage’s mother, Dawn, “but Gage is tougher!”