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Pearson in the Community
Keith Pearson, President and Vice Chairman
Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
Pearson Partners believes in giving back to the community, and we encourage our employees to be involved in charitable organizations. Keith Pearson, our president and vice chairman, talked with us about his involvement with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, his personal reasons for his passion and the society’s vital role in the community.
Tell us about the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) is the world’s largest nonprofit health organization dedicated to funding blood cancer research and providing education and patient services. The LLS North Texas Chapter is one of the biggest chapters in the country.
What made you interested in supporting a cure for blood diseases?
I have a personal connection, since my wife’s late grandmother was a victim, and a close family friend also died from it. His father passed away a short time later, from what I believe was a broken heart. Personally seeing and feeling the horrific effects of these diseases really left a strong impression on me, and I wanted to help support finding a cure.
How did you become involved with the Society?
After the loss of my friend to the disease, I decided to join Team in Training and enter the Oklahoma City marathon. Team in Training helps you to organize your campaign and solicit donations to the Society from your network. In turn they provide training, travel costs, race entry fees and a race day jersey, which I am wearing in the picture above as I crossed the finish line. I’ve been an avid runner since the mid-1990s. I ran the NYC marathon in 1997 and 1999 and have completed several marathons since then. For years I had wanted to do one through Team in Training so all of my hard work would benefit others as well as myself. A couple of years ago, I realized I wasn’t sure how many marathons I had left in me. One night I went to Central Market to learn about the Team in Training opportunity and sign up. The next morning, I had a previously scheduled breakfast with Jeff Chick, who is a board member of LLS. Jeff asked me if I’d consider serving on the board. This was shortly after the passing of my friend and his father. It seemed to me to be a sign, and that the timing was right.
Describe your involvement with the LLS. What do you typically do?
I am a member of the board of directors of the North Texas Chapter of LLS. My involvement with the Society has given me a new appreciation for how common blood diseases are. One out of two people are touched in some way by blood cancer diseases. In a typical recent year, over 250,000 people developed leukemia, one of the most common blood diseases, and over 209,000 died from it.
We get to interact with the patients—we call them “honored heroes”. These are often children, 3, 5, 10 years old, who are just ravaged by the disease and more so, by the treatment. It’s amazing and humbling to see the resiliency that they have. It really puts things in perspective, and I am honored to be helping in my small way to raise awareness and help the LLS get closer to a cure.
I attended the LLS’ annual Blood Cancer Conference a couple of weeks ago at UT Southwestern. Many of the nation’s leading experts on blood diseases convened to lecture and discuss the latest treatments, trends, etc. So there were lots of healthcare providers in attendance—hematologists, oncologists, radiologists—who heard from renowned experts.
In the Society, my charter has been to increase visibility within the business community. The LLS does not enjoy the same corporate and public relations visibility as some other charities. So we meet regularly to strategize on ways to get greater visibility.
At Pearson Partners, we have the LLS board members come to our quarterly breakfast events. It’s a win-win for them, because they learn about important business and economic trends from our panel speakers and they also have the opportunity to increase awareness about the Society within the DFW business community.
What’s the best way for our readers to become involved?
There are lots of ways to become involved. You can organize a team and participate in fundraising and team building. It’s a personal wellness thing, and it generates badly needed revenue for the Society. There are also lots of volunteer opportunities, with events all over the Metroplex. You can join the board and participate in planning events, furthering the Society’s mission, and building awareness. Of course, at the very least, you can donate money—either to a Team surrounding one of the events, or to the Society at large.
The LLS has wonderful events. One of our biggest events is called Light the Night, an organized walk. It’s very moving to see the families, friends and patients that have been touched, in one way or another, by blood diseases. Many of the big corporations in town form teams and it’s quite competitive, with the various corporations trying to outdo each other with fundraising. Participants carry colored balloons representing whether they’re a patient, a friend, or have lost a loved one. They release them into the air in groups at different times. It’s very emotional.
The LLS website has listings of events and points of contact for becoming involved in the Society. I highly encourage people to become involved. It’s been one of the most meaningful experiences of my life.