‘Woman of the Year’ nominee Gloria Torres may be considered petite by her friends, but what she lacks in height, she makes up for with her passion to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, which is recognizing her as the organization’s Woman of the Year on Thursday, Feb. 28.
Torres was born in Truckee and moved to Sacramento as a young adult. She comes from a large family who believed living and working together was a way of life. Torres was forced to face her own battle against leukemia 15 years ago. She was uncertain if she would live long enough to see her children grow up. The survival rate for leukemia at that time was not good.
‘It took my spirit, my soul and my laughter,” says Torres. “Being able to research the disease and receive support from loved ones helps you through the journey.”
Torres said it is especially hard to watch children go through the battle of disease. Torres believes children have great spirits and research of blood cancers helps improve the quality of life for these children and their families.
“I want to pass the baton,” Torres said. “To embrace our loved ones. A lot of people have been diagnosed with cancer.”
Marilyn Lluch, Torres’ campaign manager, has known Torres about 23 years. They met while volunteering for community events.
“The first day I met Gloria I just connected with her,” Lluch said. “Gloria would do anything for anybody without thinking of herself. She is the epitome of good, the most kindhearted person one could meet.”
Lluch said their goal is to raise $50,000 during the 10-week event, starting with spaghetti feed at the VFW Hall On Stockton Boulevard on March 3, 2012.
Together Lluch and Torres have planned several events to educate the public on blood cancers.
Executive Director for LLS, Robert Ojeda, also met Torres while doing volunteer work. Ojeda thinks it is nice to see someone who has been working on the sidelines, take the spotlight to raise funds for LLS.
“Torres not only understands what it is like to live with a blood cancer, she also understands in order to find a cure we have to raise money for research,” Ojeda said.
Ojeda finds it important for the successful candidate to have a network for support and more importantly, the passion and belief that doing this is something bigger than themselves, it’s about making a difference and Ojeda sees this in Torres.
Torres wants folks to know it is easier to deal with the disease when others are there to help. When Torres first learned she had leukemia, she kept it from her family and friends for three months. Torres admits that was a mistake. It isolates the patient and what is needed is support and friendship.
“It takes courage, commitment, loyalty and respect to survive leukemia,” says Torres. “I would not be here if it were not for the research and new medication that I take every day.”
Torres feels blessed she was able to fund a research under her name last year because of Delbert Stapp, runner up for ‘Man of the Year’ in 2012. Stapp raised over $72,000 for LLS. The Sacramento organization as a whole raised a total of $360,000.
LLS is the world’s largest voluntary health organization dedicated to funding blood cancer research and providing education and patient services. LLS was founded in 1949 and has invested more than $814 million in research. Last year the Man & Woman events raised over $19 million nationwide. www.lls.org
A great deal of consideration and care is put into these nominations because it takes a very special person to be a Man & Woman of the Year candidate. The candidates compete in honor of children who are local blood cancer survivors, the Boy & Girl of the Year. Every dollar they raise counts as one vote, and the titles are awarded to the man and woman with the most votes at the end of ten weeks. The local candidates who raise more funds than anyone else in the country also win the national Man & Woman of the Year titles. www.lls.org
Approximately every four minutes, someone in the U.S. is diagnosed with a blood cancer.
For 2011, it was estimated there would be approximately 44,600 new cases diagnosed.
In 1977, the survival rate was 34 percent, in 2007 it was 57% and the survival rate is even better today.
Stapp feels right now history is being made. Compared to a five percent survival rate for leukemia in the 1950’s and 1960’s, there is now a 50-60 percent survival rate and a 73 percent survival rate for children.
“Scientists have reengineered the HIV virus to attack cancer cells,” said Stepp. “There is also a new drug that is in the process of being approved through the FDA that is doubling the amount of people in remission and extending lives. People are living five years longer with this drug.”
For those interested in donations or sponsoring an event for LLS, please see Jennifer Pear, the campaign manager for this year’s event at mwoy.org/sac or email Ms. Pear at Jennifer.email@example.com
For information on how to get involved or check out the events for ‘Woman of the Year’ go to: