Jessica Delgado, co-owner of Delgado Collective, a collection of the Valley’s finest restaurants, continues to make a difference past the restaurant scene and into saving lives through cancer research. This past year, she was approached by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) to be the Valley’s first ever candidate for the 2021 Man & Woman of the Year Campaign. LLS is the largest volunteer health organization devoted to finding a cure for blood cancers.
Delgado explained that she recently had a family member die from cancer. “This is one disease that everyone in their lifetime will have a loved one affected by. It’s so unfortunately relevant,” she said. “We’ll all be affected in some way in our lifetime — probably in a very devastating way.” Although her family member’s cancer wasn’t specifically a blood cancer like leukemia or lymphoma, it made her appreciate the work that LLS is doing for the world in the fight to beat cancer. “The faster we find a cure for this disease, the better for us all.”
There are 10 other candidates from San Antonio to South Texas who are also running for the title of Man & Woman of the Year. Each candidate is tasked with giving their team a certain dollar amount to fundraise, and Delgado chose a goal of $75,000. The candidate who raises the most funds within a 10-week timeframe receives the title. Delgado and her team of 6 volunteers, named 75 for Saving Lives, have already been hard at work.
She said these funds are important because they help all cancer patients. “The majority of the funds raised goes straight to research and supporting patients— 74 cents of each dollar goes to researching a cure for blood cancers and helping patients and their families,” she said. “A beautiful thing I learned about LLS is that since 2017,85% of all FDA approved blood cancer treatments in the market today were funded by LLS. They’re doing some major, major research for our cancer community throughout the country and across the world.”
In addition to research, LLS provides support and advocacy for cancer patients and their families, from seeking FDA approval for new drugs, counseling for families, travel stipends for care, informational resources, and more.
Delgado explained that LLS works globally, including with hospital systems in the Rio Grande Valley such as Vannie Cook Children’s Clinic, Texas Oncology, Children’s Hospital, and Rio Grande Regional Hospital. “Their hope is to get more awareness and advocacy in the Rio Grande Valley so our community really knows about the great things that LLS is doing for the cancer community.”
If you would like to donate to 75 for Saving Lives, you can go to www.mwoy.org and type in “Jessica Delgado” to find her fundraising page, which provides information on where to send your check or how to pay electronically. You can also find Delgado on Facebook to donate.
“I want to thank all of my generous donors so far,” she said. “These first three weeks have just been really amazing and beautiful seeing all the contributions coming into this organization that I’m so passionate about. Thank you for your generous and sincere donations to this cause. I’m so grateful for each one of you and each business that supported this mission of saving lives and beating cancer.”
Delgado also wanted to share that one of the newest focuses by LLS is their Children’s Initiative, and their mission is to raise $100 million in the next few years that goes specifically to children’s research. Unfortunately, the drugs that are being used to treat cancer patients don’t differ between children and adults except for in the dosage amount. Right now, there aren’t cancer treatments designed specifically for children’s bodies, and the drugs they receive now can lead to chronic illnesses, infertility, or further medical issues throughout the rest of their lives. Every year, there are around 4,000 children diagnosed with leukemia or lymphoma. “We’ve got to figure out a way to help people beat cancer,” Delgado said.
If you would like to donate to this initiative in addition to the Man & Woman of the Year campaign, please visit www.LLS.org.