As the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Western PA and West Va. Chapter kicks off its annual Man and Woman of the Year campaign, 11 people are competing to raise as much money as possible for the nonprofit.
The male and female with the most money raised take the title of Man or Woman of the Year and move on to vie for national honors.
One of those people is Chandler Carranza, a 2000 Seneca Valley High School graduate.
Carranza has 10 weeks starting March 8 to get funds for the local Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, or LLS, chapter.
He lives in Pittsburgh’s Bloomfield neighborhood, but still has ties to Butler County. He coaches the middle school wrestling team at Mars School District.
He’s using some of his own advice he gives to his wrestlers in his fundraising strategy.
“As I always tell my wrestlers, you’ve got to break things down into smaller goals first to achieve that big one,” Carranza said. “So that’s how I’m going about it.”
Each candidate for Man and Woman of the Year — four men and seven women this year — is tasked with raising money however they wish. That could be getting direct cash donations from family and friends, lining up corporate sponsors or staging events, said Jennifer Miller, the society’s campaign manager for Man and Woman of the Year.
“I like to call it a marathon at a sprint’s pace,” Miller said. “It’s a very quick, very intense 10 weeks to do as much as they possibly can.”
It’s a blind fundraising competition. Only Miller knows how much money each candidate has brought in. The winners and total amount raised are announced at a gala May 18.
The winning man and woman last year raised slightly more than $80,000 each. The total fundraising amount from the 11 candidates last year was $513,259. The goal this year is $600,000.
Carranza is a trying to use his job at Ole Smoky Distillery and his passion for fitness to drive his campaign. He’s a member of the Steel City Road Runners and Pittsburgh Triathlon Club, and has competed in a number of road races and triathlons.
He’s running the full Pittsburgh marathon in early May, his third time completing the race, and intends to use the 26.2-mile event to raise money for the campaign.
Carranza is also organizing events, using his job as division director of control at Ole Smoky Distillery to help with that.
Candidates are nominated by the LLS nominating committee, the leadership team, the executive board or the executive director. They try to select people who are well-connected, philanthropic and competitive, Miller said.
Miller said she’s the one who nominated Carranza.
“Knowing Chandler’s drive and competitive nature and the connections that he has, I think he’s going to do really well,” she said.
The chapter has been running this fundraising competition since 2010, Miller said.
The money goes to help the society’s mission to cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma and improve the quality of life of patients and their families.
The group is heavily research based, Miller said, and 74 percent of money raised is invested back in the patient support programs and research.
Carranza said that’s what’s motivating him.
“I know what I’m going to be proud of is the cause and what I can do for them,” he said. “I’ve had a number of family members and friends that have been affected by a variety of different cancers. To be able to give something back to them means the most to me.”
To help with Chandler Carranza’s campaign for LLS Man of the Year, visit pages.mwoy.org/wpa/pgh18/ccarranza.