Rao Named Woman Of The Year

It takes a special person to give tirelessly of their time and energy to help others, but according to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) that’s what makes a true “Man or Woman of the Year.” The society's annual Man & Woman of the Year fundraising competition calls on Triangle businesses and community leaders to demonstrate resolve and compassion. At the close of this spring’s ten-week campaign, Arati V. Rao, MD, Duke Cancer Institute, and Tim Sargent, Sterling Capital, were named 2015 Man & Woman of the Year. Sargent and Rao raised the most to support the LLS mission to cure leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families.

Raoassociate professor of Medicine at Duke Cancer Institute, raised more than $150,000 to become the Triangle Woman of the Year and the highest fundraising Woman of the Year candidate ever for the North Carolina Chapter. Sargent, a director at Sterling Capital, raised more than $63,000 to earn the Man of the Year title. The vital funds raised by Rao and Sargent support LLS programs including financial aid, support groups, and peer counseling to patients and their families, and LLS investments in research, including more than $2.97 million in active projects here in North Carolina.

"Making an ask was very difficult for me in the beginning," said Rao when identifying the challenges associated with raising $152,800. "It wasn't always easy to explain to people why they should donate to LLS instead of to other worthy causes, such as the earthquake relief in Nepal. However, toward the end of the campaign I was relentless; every person I met I asked to give."

This year’s candidates made a significant impact in the lives of more than 1.1 million blood cancer patients and their families nationwide including the society's local honored patients, Boy of the Year, Mason Brantley, 7, and Girl of the Year, Kaelyn Smith, 6.

Fifteen competing candidates together raised more than $580,000. Awards were presented on May 16 at the Grand Finale Gala at the Raleigh Marriott City Center. To learn more about the candidates and the campaign, visit www.mwoy.org/tri.

"Being named Woman of The Year is a reminder of how hard I worked to make this happen," said Rao. "Over the course of my career I have been a grant recipient from private foundations. Now, I know what goes into raising the money that funded me and helped me. The fact that the the amount I have raised will fund a young researcher whose studies may lead to the next Gleevec or CART therapy, truly makes me happy, proud and fills me with such hope for all my patients."

The North Carolina Chapter of LLS serves patients battling leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma statewide out of offices in Cary and Charlotte. The chapter raises money for research leading to a cure for blood cancers, the nation’s number two cancer killer, and to enhance the quality of life for local patients through services such as family support groups, educational programs and financial aid. For more information about LLS, visit www.lls.org.