Last year, over 1,000 Celgene employees, friends and families gathered together in cities across the country to honor people whose lives have been touched by blood cancer, by raising lanterns along with nearly $285,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) annual Light The Night® campaign. With that total, Celgene was named the top fundraising biopharmaceutical company in the United States. This level of contribution to the fight against blood cancer could not have been achieved without selfless teamwork from across the company.
“One team or one location can only go so far,” said John Kimmet, head of Strategic Planning and Decision Analysis and chair from Celgene for this year’s campaign. “Instead, working together across divisions and across the country, we’re making as large an impact as possible.”
When the opportunity came earlier this year to lead those efforts, Kimmet jumped at it. The decision was personal to Kimmet, who lost a dear friend and colleague to leukemia last year.
“The Light The Night campaign was an opportunity to help others in the same situation my friend faced,” Kimmet said. “Last year, the funds raised by walks like these allowed the LLS to support over 500 patients in their time of need and to invest millions in research. That is just remarkable.”
Kimmet joined Celgene in January, so this year’s walk in Summit, NJ will be his first. Already, he sees how the campaign is helping people with blood cancer and bringing together employees at Celgene.
“It’s amazing to see our colleagues from across the country come together and pitch in,” Kimmet said. “This initiative exemplifies our strong sense of teamwork and our shared purpose of putting patients first.”
IN 2016, CELGENE EMPLOYEES AND THEIR FAMILIES AND FRIENDS PARTICIPATED AT THE LIGHT THE NIGHT WALK IN SUMMIT, NJ.
One of Kimmet’s colleagues who has supported Celgene’s efforts for Light The Night across the country is Allison Handel. She lives in Arizona and manages Celgene’s corporate alliances in hematology and oncology. She has been driving campaign participation across the commercial sales team for the past six years, motivated by her experiences at her local Light The Night walks.
“You see 8,000 people who are there to honor loved ones who have passed and patients who are battling blood cancer,” Handel said. “It’s an amazing scene.”
She has become passionate about putting the “fun” back into fundraising for the LLS campaign, especially by organizing the sales team’s charity auction.
“Each of Celgene’s 30 sales teams puts a lot of pride and energy into donating something special to auction off, and that effort makes them feel connected to the mission in a personal way,” Handel said. “This year’s auction got really competitive, with people one-upping each other by a dollar and trying to get the last bid. Everyone was having fun, and all the proceeds went to the LLS.”
CELGENE EMPLOYEES PLACED THEIR BIDS FOR ITEMS DONATED BY THEIR COLLEAGUES TO SUPPORT THE LIGHT THE NIGHT CAMPAIGN DURING THIS YEAR’S SILENT AUCTION.
This year, 70 baskets were donated, and ten items were auctioned off live in front of over 500 attendees. Hot-ticket items included an espresso package from the Seattle team, a week-long stay at a luxury condo in Honduras from the Kansas City team, and a private batting practice experience with the New York Yankees from the Phoenix team.
Each year, the silent auction continues to grow; this year’s event brought in about $70,000.
ONE OF THE ITEMS THAT WAS AUCTIONED OFF DURING THIS YEAR’S CELGENE SILENT AUCTION FOR LIGHT THE NIGHT WAS A LAKE TAHOE EXPERIENCE PACKAGE.
Waymire grew her Celgene Light The Night team by making the campaign personal for her colleagues. Since the San Diego facility comprises mainly research scientists who spend their time at the bench, not the bedside, Patty brings her teammates together for “Lunch and Learns” with LLS advocates and patients. There, employees can meet the people who benefit from their research and hear their stories directly.
“It’s an incredibly impactful and moving experience,” Waymire said. “Those patient visits allow our scientists to make a personal connection and motivates them to join the Light The Night team to help us to raise even more funds for research.”
CELGENE TEAM MEMBERS FROM SAN DIEGO WALKED IN THE 2015 LIGHT THE NIGHT WALK TO RAISE FUNDS FOR BLOOD CANCER RESEARCH.
Waymire believes that all her colleagues, regardless of location, get back as much as they give to the Light The Night campaign. And she’s thankful for the opportunity to lead her team in San Diego.
“The atmosphere at the Light The Night events is inspiring,” Waymire said. “Being in the community, interacting with patients, and seeing how many people raise different colored lanterns are compelling moments for everyone at Celgene who come together for this great cause.”
To find a fundraising event near you or donate online today, visit the Light The Night® website.