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The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Man & Woman of the Year


This year’s Man & Woman of the Year for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) Orange County Inland Empire chapter went to ABC7 TV News Reporter, Leticia Juarez and Ryan McGinnis of Provident Real Estate.

Juarez and McGinnis helped raise more than $350,000, to support LLS’s goal to find cures for blood cancers and ensure that patients have access to lifesaving treatments.

For 10-weeks, 11 local community leaders fought in a spirited campaign to raise the most funds to ensure a world without blood cancers. The winners were announced at a Grand Finale Gala at the Newport Beach Marriott Hotel & Spa on Saturday, May 18. 

 “I wish I was standing up here tonight honoring my sister Pam instead of honoring her memory,” said Woman of the Year Leticia Juarez. Leticia dedicated her campaign to her sister Pam who passed away from Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia and Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2015.  

Man of the Year, Ryan McGinnis ran in honor of his brother Shaun, who was diagnosed with leukemia at the age of four years old. Today Shaun is 32. 

Candidates and their campaign teams were judged solely on fundraising success, each dollar counting as one vote. Their totals are then considered for the national title. Candidates in each LLS chapter across the country vie for the local title, and the highest fundraisers earn the title of National Man & Woman of the Year. The national titles will be awarded to the top fundraisers in the country, to be announced this summer. 

The coveted “Mission Award” went to Heather Hibbard, who is not even a year from undergoing a peripheral stem cell transplant to treat an aggressive form of leukemia.  Heather is a mother of three and an ultrasound technician at Kaiser Permanente. The “Impact Award” recipient was Leticia Juarez from ABC-7 News in recognition of her work during the campaign in the community to create awareness for blood cancers and LLS resources. The “Team Member of the Year Award” went to Debbie Apple, whose husband Dean Apple ran for Man of the Year. 

Dean is a professional magician who lives in La Quinta. The Grand Finale Gala was sponsored by ABC-7 TV, Tommy’s Angels (Tommy Day Jr. Foundation) and Converze Media Group. 9-year old Matthew Morales served as “Boy of the Year”.  Matthew had a rare form of leukemia and underwent a bone marrow transplant and takes a daily gene inhibitor. “Girl of the Year” was Aashi Mittal, a 7-year old who was diagnosed with leukemia at the age of four. Aashi finished her treatment in 2017. 

Finally, Patty Leemhuis, from Patina Restaurant Group represented the Chapter as “All-Star Alumni Candidate” and Chair of the Man & Woman of the Year 2019 leadership committee.

Photo by Kevin Baldes

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