Grand Finale Celebration–Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (Man and Woman of the Year)

Dr. Irene May-Ling Hutchins, Woman of the Year, Photo by Alex Havasi

As a follow-up to our blog post on May 5th about the healing power of dance, today we will tell you the story about who won the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society competition. This event was attended by Marilyn Fordney and her husband, Alex Havasi, who also took all of these great photos. Marilyn Fordney recounted the events of this exciting and meaningful event.

A gala was held the evening of May 19th at the beautiful Hilton San Diego Bayfront hotel in San Diego, California. Over 300 attended, bidding via their smart- phones on items in a silent auction. There were about six people vying for the title of Man and Woman of the Year 2018. Winning was dependent on who raised the most contributions to help further the research for a cure for leukemia and lymphoma from January to May of 2018.

Grande Finale Celebration – Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Photo by Alex Havasi

The six contestants were introduced by Ginger Jeffries, Mistress of Ceremonies, via video as well as on stage. There were a number of speakers who told about how they got interested in supporting the fight for blood cancer. In addition, the Boy of the year, Myer Turchin, and the Girl of the Year, Kaylee Mikulsky, were introduced. They gave short speeches about their treatment and how they feel now. As Kaylee left the microphone, she shouted out “No More Chemo.” The audience gave out cheers. An outstanding speaker was Ryan Melendez who was the 2017 Man of the Year. He told about his near-death experience and how he beat the disease with a positive outlook and strong intention.

Grand Finale Celebration – Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Photo by Alex Havasi

Right after that, a game was played with the individuals who were each given red lighted bracelets. They came up to the front of the room. They were told to pick “Heads” or “Tails” and put their hand on that body location. Kaylee and Myer took turns in throwing up a giant coin to see whether “Heads” or “Tails” would be shown. The person who won was the individual who made a donation.

Then guests were served a delicious chicken dinner with salad and dessert. Following that there was a live auction in which one could hold up a number when bidding. The total amount raised was $467,386–WOW!!!

Grand Finale Celebration – Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Photo by Alex Havasi

Then came the big moment to announce the Man of the Year and this turned out to be Jack Kelly. After that, it was drum roll time and then the Woman of the Year was announced–Dr. Irene (May-Ling) Hutchins. It was standing ovation time. She had raised over $242,000 in her campaign this year that included dance at each event. She gave a thank you to her team that helped with the fundraising events she had for the last two months. It was an overwhelming feeling to see her win and receive the white banner that was put over her beautiful blue and white crystal gown. She is definitely a competitor, an overachiever, and very much goal oriented. Researchers are making progress in fighting this disease, so we are hopeful this will continue in a positive direction. We are so very happy we got to be a part of it for this brief time of celebration!

Man of the Year, Jack Kelly and Woman of the Year, Dr. Irene May-Ling Hutchins, Photo by Alex Havasi

Thought Of The Week:

The groundwork of all happiness is good health! – Leigh Hunt

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Shane Meuwissen is the Media Specialist for Fordney Foundation.  He is a former dance instructor who know works with his company Slow Motion Dance Videos capture the beauty of dancing. If you would like to learn more about Shane and his video work, visit his website