September 10, 2014
Displayed with permission from PR Newswire
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., Sept. 10, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — 11-year-old Kyle Markes passed away of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) on December 24, 2013, just days before he was set to be his idol Kevin Durant’s special guest at an Oklahoma Thunder game on Christmas Day.
Every three minutes, someone in the U.S. is diagnosed with a blood cancer. Almost 150,000 Americans will be diagnosed with these cancers this year. More than 1.1 million Americans are living with, or in remission from a blood cancer. Leukemia causes more deaths than any other cancer among children, adolescents and young adults younger than age 20.
Kyle was not one of the lucky ones.
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) and Behind the Bench, The National Basketball Wives Association (BTB) are determined to call a foul on cancers. They are forging a partnership to raise $1 million for blood cancer cures, with its annual NBA All-Star Weekend and “Touching A Life” Gala, February 13, 2015, in New York City. The prestigious All-Star Gala attracts popular NBA players for a star-studded evening of inspiration, philanthropy and entertainment. At the 2015 event, Kevin Durant, or one of his OKC Thunder teammates, will give the “Heart of Courage” award to Kyle’s mother, Jackque Markes.
“The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is honored to join forces with this committed, passionate group, whose efforts will shine a spotlight on the urgent need to raise funds to find cures for blood cancers and ensure patients have access to treatments,” states LLS President and CEO and Chief Mission Officer, Louis J. DeGennaro, Ph.D. “It’s especially fitting to launch our partnership during Blood Cancer Awareness Month, as we aim to create awareness for blood cancers, the third leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S. We’re privileged to work with Behind the Bench to reach the influential and generous NBA community with our call to action. Together, we can make an impact on cancer treatments and cures, not someday, but today.”
As the first national player/wives organization, the non-profit Behind the Bench, The National Basketball Wives Association, formerly known as Women of the NBA, was established in 1993, by Deborah A. Williams, Ph.D., to address the challenges facing players’ families, especially the women and children.
To kick off the NBA wives’ activities for the 2015 Gala, Behind The Bench: The National Basketball Wives Association is set to donate laptop computers to children at Harlem Hospital in New York City, in a special community service event on September 11, 2014. This program was inspired by a child who wanted to communicate with her brother, her bone marrow match, while she was hospitalized.
“We are so pleased to announce our partnership with The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in conjunction with this very special community service initiative at Harlem Hospital, which provides a lifeline to the outside world for these hospitalized children,” states, Kristina Ratliff, Behind the Bench president. “As the leading organization comprised of current and retired NBA players’ wives and life partners, we work every day to improve the lives of families, especially children like Kyle.”
“This community service event at Harlem Hospital demonstrates that Behind the Bench shares LLS’s commitment to providing comfort and support, along with medical treatment, to children with cancer and other illnesses,” states Michele Przypyszny, executive director of the New York City Chapter of LLS.
“In our 65 year history, LLS has invested more than $1 billion in research to advance cancer therapies and save lives. Survival rates since the early 1960s have doubled, tripled, and even quadrupled, thanks to research and access to better treatments. In that time, cures for many patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and Hodgkin lymphoma have been achieved and the five-year survival rate for children with ALL jumped from three percent in 1964 to approximately 90 percent in 2014. But there is more work to be done. Despite this progress, more than one third of blood cancer patients still do not survive five years after their diagnosis. With no means of screening or prevention for most blood cancers, we must focus on cures in order to achieve our goal of a world without blood cancers,” states DeGennaro.
“Harlem Hospital Center is honored to receive this generous gift from Behind The Bench: The National Basketball Wives Association. Their donation of laptops, assisted by the KINfolk organization, to the children of Harlem Hospital Center will go a long way towards improving our pediatric patients’ experience while they are in our care. We are proud of our strong performance across many areas of quality and patient safety, and we remain committed to providing high quality healthcare to the Harlem community and all the New Yorkers we serve,” says Denise C. Soares, RN, MA, Senior Vice President, Generations+/Northern Manhattan Health Network, Executive Director, Harlem Hospital Center & Renaissance Health Network, New York City Health & Hospitals Corporation.
Kyle Markes never met his hero Kevin Durant. But Durant has written Kyle’s name on his sneakers for every game as reminder that we must keep driving to the hoop for cancer cures in his honor.
About Blood Cancers
Leukemia, lymphoma, myeloma, myelodysplastic syndromes and myeloproliferative neoplasms are types of cancer that can affect the bone marrow, the blood cells, the lymph nodes and other parts of the lymphatic system. These diseases are related in the sense that they may all result from acquired mutations to the DNA of a single lymph- or blood-forming stem cell. With blood cancers, abnormal cells multiply and survive without the usual controls that are in place for healthy cells. The accumulation of these cells in the marrow, blood or lymphatic tissue interferes with production and functioning of red cells, white cells and platelets. The disease process can lead to severe anemia, bleeding, an impaired ability to fight infection, or death.
About The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society ® (LLS) is the world’s largest voluntary health agency dedicated to blood cancer. The LLS mission: Cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families. LLS funds lifesaving blood cancer research around the world, provides free information and support services, and is the voice for all blood cancer patients seeking access to quality, affordable, coordinated care.
Founded in 1949 and headquartered in White Plains, NY, LLS has chapters throughout the United States and Canada. To learn more, visit www.LLS.org. Patients should contact the Information Resource Center at (800) 955-4572, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET.
About Behind the Bench, The National Basketball Wives Association (BTB)
BTB is a global non-profit organization dedicated to empowering, inspiring and positively impacting the lives of children and families of global communities. To date, Behind the Bench has donated over $2 million to both national and local non-profit organizations. Each year BTB hosts its annual conference as well as host the “Touching A Life Luncheon” during NBA All-Star Weekend. This annual luncheon recognizes local individuals and organizations in support of their communities. Our past honorees have included notable dignitaries such as Muhammad Ali, Hank Aaron, Patti LaBelle, Janet Jackson, Shaquille O’Neal, Cookie Johnson, and Calvin Johnson, Jr., amongst many others. To learn more visit www.behindthebench.org.