Alexandria Man Gives Back After Facing Lymphoma

March 13, 2014
Dwayne Page
Justin Paschal

More than one million Americans are living with a blood cancer; and every four minutes one person in the United States is diagnosed with a blood cancer. To support its mission to find cures for blood cancer patients, and ensure access to treatments, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) is launching its 24th annual "Man & Woman of the Year (MWOY)" fundraising campaign, enlisting influential and compassionate community leaders as candidates competing to raise funds for blood cancer research and cures. MWOY candidates across the country compete in honor of a local boy and girl who are blood cancer survivors, to raise the most funds for blood cancer research. Every dollar counts as one vote, and the titles are awarded to the man and woman with the most votes at the end of the campaign. The top local fundraisers in the country win the national titles.

In the spirit of giving back, Justin Paschal of Alexandria will join forces with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) during the months of April, May, and June in a spirited ten-week fundraising competition to earn the LLS's Man of the Year title, by raising funds for blood cancer research.

Paschal decided to get involved in the cause to help others after learning only three months ago that he has Hodgkins Lymphoma. "I found out eight days before Christmas that I had Hodgkins Lymphoma," said Paschal in an interview with WJLE Wednesday. " I started my chemotherapy January 8th. I am three months into it right now. My treatments last until the middle of June and then I'll be finished with my chemotherapy. The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society every year has a ten week fundraising campaign called the "Man and Woman of the Year". All of the proceeds raised go straight to (LLS) for cancer research, for blood cancers like Lymphoma which is what I have. After I was diagnosed in December and overcoming the initial shock of learning I have this so young at age 27, I decided I wanted to do something to reach out and help others that are fighting blood cancers so I contacted the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. I had a couple of phone conversations and meetings with them and they actually nominated me for "Man of the Year" this year. It's an honor to be nominated. In my opinion there is no better cause than raising money to fight cancer," said Paschal.

Fundraising efforts locally will begin on Saturday, April 12 at the DeKalb County Fairgrounds in Alexandria with a Poker Run and Campaign Kick-Off Party. " The campaign runs from April 10 through June 19 and we have planned three different events for April, May, and June. On April 12 we're going to have a Campaign Kick-Off Party at the DeKalb County Fairgrounds in Alexandria. We'll start the morning with a motorcycle Poker Run. Registration will be at 10:00 a.m. and the first bike out will be at 11:00 a.m. The first bike in will be at 2:00 p.m. I haven't confirmed it yet but we may have some celebrity guest appearances on motorcycles. Since everyone doesn't have a bike, once the motorcycles get back we'll have a fun family day at the fairgrounds. We'll have a LIVE band, an auction along with face painting and bounce houses for the kids. Ventriloquist David Turner and Friends of Alexandria will be here. It's going to be a good time," said Paschal.

Other fundraising events will be held on May 31 and June 14th. "We'll have a 5K Run that morning (May 31) and then at 6:00 p.m. we'll have a band come in and perform for us at Cedars of Lebanon State Park in Lebanon. On June 14th, we'll be at Hidden Harbor Marina on Center Hill Lake for another Poker Run. We've got three big events over the next three months and we hope to see everybody out there," he said.

Paschal looks forward to representing our community in the 2014 Man and Woman of the Year campaign. "It's a friendly competition. The men compete against the men and the women compete against the women. It's all in fun and all the money goes to (LLS). The slogan of the campaign is "Everybody wins if Cancer Loses". We're all in it for fun but the money is going to a great cause," said Paschal.

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