John Burman

A few weeks ago, I wrote a story about Daniel Edelen, a 16-year-old boy from Winston Churchill High School who is a lymphoblastic leukemia survivor. If beating the disease isn’t amazing enough, read this update about his mission to break the national fundraising record for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society’s Man of the Year Award.

Thursday night at the organization’s fundraising banquet at the Pearl Stables, surrounded by friends, family, silent auctions and great food, it was made official: Daniel shattered the national Man of the Year fundraising record to the tune of $467,000, becoming the most successful fundraiser and youngest winner in the event’s history.

Daniel Edelen, LLS Man of the Year, and Tina Kahlig, LLS’s Woman of the Year. Tina broke a San Antonio record by raising $150,000. Photo courtesy of Craig Jenkins.
2013 LLS Man and Woman of the Year Daniel Edelen and Tina Kahlig, receive their awards Thursday night. Photo courtesy of Craig Jenkins.

“I’m blessed enough to be able to give back and help make a difference for others. It’s a big honor to win, but I am just glad I could help,” Daniel said. “We could not have done it without the rest of the team – it is a great relief to be done!”

While Daniel took top honors by setting both the San Antonio and national records, he wasn’t alone in his high fundraising mark and effort. All together this year’s crop of candidates raised $1.2 million for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS), almost tripling last year’s efforts of $467,000. The extraordinary effort makes San Antonio the top fundraising city in the history of the award.

Until this year, no individual male candidate in San Antonio had broken the $100,000 barrier. Including Daniel, this year’s class had three above the mark. The men weren’t the only big earners. Tina Kahlig, LLS’s Woman of the Year, broke a San Antonio record by raising $150,000.

Fundraising efforts like the ones exhibited by Daniel and the other candidates for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society demonstrate just how dedicated the inhabitants of San Antonio are to making a global impact and transforming lives.

Daniel's Beacon Hill classmates cheer him along at a fundraising event. Photo courtesy of SAISD.
Daniel’s Beacon Hill classmates cheer him along at a fundraising event. Photo courtesy of SAISD.

Daniel’s journey to Man of the Year started at the age of seven when he was taken to the Payton Manning Children’s hospital in Indianapolis and diagnosed with High Risk T-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. Over the next three years and four months he spent 88 days in the hospital undergoing three surgeries, 21 spinal taps, and 22 blood and platelet transfusions. While those three years were excruciating for Daniel and his family, his cancer went into remission. Last year, he was cured.

Thankful for all of the time, energy, research, and money that went into finding therapies and treatments that led to the successful treatment of Daniel and thousands of others throughout the country, the family decided to enter this year’s competitions as a way to give back.

[Read more about Daniel’s journey here: Local Cancer Survivor Vies for 2013 Man of the Year.]

John Burnam is an independent consultant currently working with San Antonio Christian Dental Clinic, The Louise Batz Foundation for Bedside Advocacy, I Care San Antonio, and Xenex Healthcare. He works in patient safety, community health and well-being,  nonprofit development, and strategic planning. He graduated from Trinity University with a Bachelors in Art History and Classics and from Vanderbilt University  with a Master’s degree in Theological Studies.  Prospective employers can check him out on LinkedIn.

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John Burnam

John Burnam is the co-founder and principal of Burnam | Gray, a nonprofit consulting firm that seeks to help agencies ignite and scale best practices.