Team BMS 'Lights The Night' and sets fundraising record

December 09, 2021

Across the U.S. this fall, as darkness fell, seas of lanterns flicked on. The brightly colored lanterns belonged to blood cancer survivors, family members and supporters — many of them Bristol Myers Squibb employees — walking together in Light The Night®, the signature national series of events by The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS). 

Supporting LLS and Light The Night aligns with Bristol Myers Squibb’s patient-centric mission, and this year was no exception. Bristol Myers Squibb teams raised more than $900,000 to benefit LLS, exceeding the goal for this year, and setting an all-time company record.

light the night event

“As our current top biopharma fundraising team, BMS is a key partner in ensuring LLS is known in the community,” said Coker Powell, SVP, Chief Development Officer for LLS. “Each day, we fight to find cures for blood cancers and help every patient access the care they need to survive and thrive. We thank all those who celebrated, honored and remembered those touched by cancer.”

During the walks, blood cancer survivors and supporters carried colored lanterns that represent the LLS’ goal of “bringing light to the darkness of cancer.” The colored lanterns signify participants’ connection to blood cancers — red for supporters, white for survivors, and gold carried in memory of loved ones lost to cancer.

Making big goals a reality

The walks were the finale, the culmination of months of preparation and fundraising in which Bristol Myers Squibb teams reached out to their communities in creative ways. Those efforts included a virtual auction where donated prizes were auctioned off over a one-week period, a local trivia night in Chicago, and a fitness fundraising event that was the highlight of a recent national internal meeting. All funds raised directly benefited LLS.

“A personal trainer taught a fitness class using resistance bands, and everyone was thrilled to participate,” said Trish Wetzel, vice president of U.S. Cell Therapy Account Management at Bristol Myers Squibb, and BMS’ Light The Night Corporate Walk Chair. “I am in awe of how all our teams have stepped up to support the LLS. Everyone has done incredible work.”

Many of the fundraising efforts still needed to be virtual due to COVID-19, and employees also had to meet virtually for much of the year to plan their team efforts. They were undeterred by those challenges, noted Wetzel.

“Teams made big commitments and persevered to meet them. Despite the pandemic keeping us apart physically, we came together to fundraise and made personal connections to colleagues and the blood cancer community as a whole,” said Wetzel. “The events themselves had the option of being in-person or virtual. And they were amazing no matter the format.”

A shared passion

For Wetzel, participating in Light The Night meant being a part of something bigger, from the blood cancer community, to the LLS, to Bristol Myers Squibb. 

“The spirit of the event was about more than the fundraising,” she said. “We all had the opportunity to hear each other’s personal stories and missions, and to be inspired by patients. Being the voice, carrying the lantern, and representing the community delivers a powerful message.”

Next year, Bristol Myers Squibb’s support of LLS will continue, as there is still much more work to be done for the blood cancer community.

“We’re grateful to Team BMS for their continuing support of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Light The Night,” said Louis J. DeGennaro, Ph.D., LLS president and CEO. “At LLS, we believe cancer is curable, and with the continued help and generosity of BMS and our shared passion for supporting patients, we can achieve our goal of a world without blood cancer.”

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