These leukemia fighters know: When cancer loses, we all win

Cincinnati Reds' VP Karen Forgus, FC Cincinnati's Jeff Berding and Bengals' Marvin Lewis

Kristy Voytek enlisted Bengals coach Marvin Lewis, FC Cincinnati’s Jeff Berding and the Reds’ Karen Forgus to speak at a fundraiser Thursday for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Man and Woman of the Year competition. She’s one of the 12 candidates.

Personal connection is important to nearly every charitable fundraiser.

Take the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Man and Woman of the Year fundraiser. It’s a straightforward event: 12 people have 10 weeks to raise as much money for LLS as they can. Every dollar equals one vote, and the man and woman with the most votes win. Last year’s Cincinnati campaign raised $770,000.

Kristy Voytek is one of this year’s contestants. Her motivation is very personal.

Kristy Voytek (right) is raising funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Her daughter Katie (left) is nearly finished with three years of treatments for leukemia.

Her oldest daughter, Katie, was diagnosed with T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia in March 2015. She was 21, a junior at Indiana University, vibrant, active. Since then, Katie has been through two and a half years of treatments. She has another six months of treatments to go.

As Voytek writes in her blog (, “I am so grateful she is alive… But I do know one thing after having walked this journey with her and others… There is a better way!!” That way, she believes, requires more money for more research.

Many of the Man and Woman of the Year contestants are reaching out to family and friends personally or via their “page” on the LLS website. Others are hosting their own fundraising events.

Voytek has an ambitious event coming up Thursday, May 18.

She has lined up three big names in local sports for a “State of Cincinnati Sports” dinner / panel. It is 6-10 p.m. at the Montgomery Inn Boathouse.

Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis, FC Cincinnati general manager Jeff Berding, and Cincinnati Reds senior vice president Karen Forgus will share lessons they’ve learned and talk about the future of their teams. The evening also includes raffles, a silent auction and cash bar. Tickets are $125, with part of those proceeds going to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Man/Woman of the Year Campaign. (Tickets:

While it may not be completely fair to the other contenders to focus on one candidate’s story, leukemia isn’t exactly a fair foe either. So, go to their pages on the LLS website and make a donation.

The candidates include:

Amy Carr, a mother of four boys, who has faced down lymphoma;

Cindy Bihl, who teamed with Algin Retro Furniture downtown on a fundraiser, sold lemonade and pastries at the St. Teresa of Avila Youth Group flower sale and is hosting a May 28 swim party at Phillipps Swim Club on the West Side;

Kyle Cheslock, whose mother fought a 13-year battle with leukemia;

Megan Urban, who, as she notes in capital letters on her website, is STILL FIGHTING lymphoma and has set a personal goal of raising $50,000 for LLS. She was diagnosed two years ago when her son was still a baby, was treated with a drug made possible by LLS-funded research, and has been cancer-free for a year and a half;

Scott Oyler, whose goal is to raise $75,000 in honor of his grandmother, whose positive attitude during her battle with cancer left a lasting impression.

Michael Betz, Taylor Brown, Grace Lobono, Jeff Morris, Jennifer Lynn and Kelli Kolkmeyer.

The Man & Woman of the Year campaign wraps up Friday, June 2, with a Grand Finale at JACK Casino Cincinnati.  

The celebration, which is expected to draw 600 supporters, will include cocktails, food, music and a silent auction. Tickets are $125.

Discover more from Movers & Makers

Subscribe to get the latest posts to your email.