CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. — By now you may know of the campaign of our own Laura French to become the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Woman Of The Year through fundraising to find a cure for this disease. You can read the backstory of Laura’s journey and her father’s struggle with his own diagnosis here:
Over the course of the last few months, Laura has been hosting celebrity bartending fundraisers at Bonchon, a Korean barbecue restaurant in Midlothian. Thursday night, she brought in a ringer.
Laura had aimed this particular night at her Hokie friends, and asked Hokies senior kicker Joey Slye if he would join her. Slye said yes, and added this stop to the long list of efforts on his part to eradicate an illness that hits just as close to home for him.
"In 2012, my brother (A.J.) was diagnosed with AML (Acute Myeloid Leukemia), which is the same thing that Laura's dad has" Sly said. "He fought for 14 months and passed away in 2014."
"My brother was a hero to me, a role model in every way. Losing him was one of the hardest things for me."
Slye has turned his personal loss into his personal purpose, raising money and awareness for a cure for leukemia and lymphoma. "This whole campaign is geared toward honoring his legacy."
Slye is in the running for the Society's Man Of The Year honor and considered it an honor himself to be asked to help Laura in her efforts.
"I'm honored that she asked me to do this with her in our fight together against this disease," Slye said. "Right now, they're fundraising for the exact cancer that my brother had. It's like paying it forward to someone who might be going through the exact same treatment that my brother had."
Slye has enlisted as many members of the Hokie nation as he can to join in his fight to find a cure. There will be a gala in Richmond on May 20th, and Slye also held a fundraiser after the Hokies' spring game in Blacksburg. But the efforts go beyond the borders of the Commonwealth.
"We created a map to see how many people we've been able to reach across the country" Slye said. "We've only missed 2 or 3 states. We have people who send donations and we're like 'How do you even know us?' At the same time, we're honored and blessed to have our story reach all parts of the country."
If you would like to donate to either Laura's or Joey's efforts, you can do so at these links:
The Man and Woman Of The Year campaigns run through May 20.