Bristol Myers Squibb’s mission of discovering, developing and delivering innovative medicines that help patients prevail over serious diseases is closely aligned with the LLS and Light The Night’s mission of finding cures for blood cancers and improving quality of life, making a partnership between the two organizations a natural fit. This was the first year for Bristol Myers Squibb and Celgene to support Light The Night as a combined company.
For patients with blood cancer and their families, Light The Night has traditionally offered an emotional and community-based experience in which survivors and supporters walk together and carry colored lanterns representing their connection to blood cancers.
Although the necessity of converting the event to a virtual format this year was a challenge, the “walks” maintained a sense of connectedness and unity. The virtual experience included Light The Night pre-shows and ceremonies, quiet opportunities for honoring and remembering lives through the Remembrance Pavilion, a display of honored heroes through the Circle of Survivors, and even a virtual cinematic fireworks display.
“I could not be prouder that our Bristol Myers Squibb team came together this year and exceeded our national fundraising goal,” said Winselow Tucker, senior vice president, general manager of U.S. Hematology, and the 2020 New Jersey Corporate Walk Chair for Light The Night.
Having a greater impact
Leading up to the event, the pandemic posed challenges to team building, recruitment and engagement. Bristol Myers Squibb teams found ways to overcome these challenges by taking advantage of technological collaboration tools and holding bi-weekly discussions to share engagement strategies. Creative activities to support Light The Night were born from these efforts, including sidewalk chalk challenges and photo contests.
“As our Bristol Myers Squibb Corporate Walk Chair in 2020, my goal was to engage as many of our employees as possible to participate in Light The Night,” said Tucker.
He noted that more than 790 employees participated on one of the 109 Bristol Myers Squibb teams throughout the U.S., including 116 captains and co-captains who took on leadership roles.
“Those numbers demonstrate a higher participation than either Celgene or Bristol Myers Squibb had in years’ past, proving that as we came together as a combined company, we could have an even greater impact for the blood cancer community,” said Tucker.
Blood cancer treatment advances have led to improvement in patient outcomes over the years, he noted, but more progress is needed in increasing survival rates, reducing impacts of treatment-related side effects, and improving quality of life.
“On behalf of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and our Light The Night campaign, I cannot thank Bristol Myers Squibb enough for its continued partnership. The funds raised will allow us to continue investing in lifesaving research and provide critical financial and emotional support to patients and families facing a blood cancer diagnosis,” said Jana Boyer, executive director, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society – New Jersey Region.
“I am proud of BMS’ efforts for this year’s Light The Night to support the LLS, but we need to continue to find ways to bring light to the darkness of cancer. Until we can offer each person with cancer a better, healthier life, and find a cure, we will keep working,” said Tucker.