Two worlds collided last Thursday evening in the Crystal Ballroom at Costa d’Este when Cinco de Mayo and the Kentucky Derby were merged into a Derby de Mayo fundraiser to benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society through its Man & Woman of the Year campaign, which ends May 18.
The event was hosted by LLS Man & Woman of the Year nominee Dr. Raul Storey, a hematology and oncology specialist in Indian River County since 2012. The LLS Man & Woman of the Year is a philanthropic competition created to support blood cancer research, with candidates fundraising in honor of two children who are blood cancer survivors.
The nomination criteria states that candidates for the honor “share a compassion for others and are dynamic individuals who are connected in their communities and relentless in their efforts to raise funds to find cures for blood cancers.” Fifteen nominees from Melbourne to Miami are competing, and at the conclusion of the 10-week campaign, the top fundraising man and woman are awarded the regional title. Top nationwide fundraisers receive the national title.
The charismatic Storey invited friends, patients and colleagues who all embraced the theme of the hybrid event, with many of the ladies wearing las flores either in their hair or atop their traditional derby hats.
Guests sipped on mint juleps and Margaritas while snacking on street tacos and visiting the cupcake cantina, perusing the silent-auction items and taking selfies in the photo booth.
Following a brief video about his campaign, a ‘Call to the Post’ was played and Storey addressed the crowd to encourage them to join him in the race to cure cancer.
“Cancer is a cause that touches everybody,” said Storey. “We all know someone close to us that has gone through their own journey of cancer, if not yourself. We know that it’s difficult and a very emotional journey.”
Noting that one out of two men and one out of three women will be diagnosed with some type of cancer in their lifetime, he added, “the only way that we can find to fight this is through cancer research. That’s what the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is doing.”
It has been a personal journey for Storey, whose father was diagnosed with prostate cancer more than 20 years ago. Thanks to treatments resulting from cancer research, he is doing so well that the two were able to run another Miami Marathon together just a few months ago.
“We’re all together in trying to win this race to find a cure for cancer,” said Storey.
In Indian River County last year, more than 200 residents requested information from LLS and it provided 40 cancer patients with nearly $80,000 in co-pay assistance.
LLS has invested nearly $1.3 billion in groundbreaking research since it was founded in 1949. It is dedicated to curing leukemia, lymphoma, myeloma and other blood cancers, while ensuring patients have access to lifesaving treatments, provides hope, compassion, education and support.
To donate in Dr. Storey’s name, visit pages.mwoy.org/pb/pbc19/rstoreyroj. For more information about the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, visit lls.org.