JR Rickert participated in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) spirited competition to raise funds to help blood cancer patients live longer and more fulfilling lives. His efforts earned him the 2014 Man of the Year title in Upstate New York/Vermont.
“I was really glad I participated in this,” states Rickert. “The people that organize it in my area have been asking me for a couple of years to accept the nomination.” The campaign has always coincided with the NFL draft, which is a busy time of the year for Rickert as the owner of JR Sports Enterprises, an agency that represents over 100 professional athletes, entertainers, personalities, and performers.
“It was tough to run the campaign and to also focus on the draft at the same time,” said Rickert, “In fact, I missed the awards dinner because I was working on the draft Friday night. I felt like even though I wasn’t able to be there for the grand finale, I did a lot to raise awareness. It’s such a great cause. I got a chance to meet both the Boy of the Year and the Girl of the Year who are two of the kids that we’re raising money for. I was just so moved when I met them,” he added. “I also got to know the other candidates through the process and think they are tremendous people.”
According to the LLS website, candidates run in honor of the Boy & Girl of the Year, who are local blood cancer survivors and sources of inspiration. Candidates are people who are passionate about finding cures for leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma. From corporate presidents to ultra-marathoners, the diverse candidates and nominees always have two qualities in common: humanity and passion.
All candidates had ten weeks to accumulate the most “votes.” Every dollar raised counted as one vote. Proceeds from the 2014 Man & Woman of the Year support the mission to cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families.
“The LLS organization does a great job in doing everything from providing research and financial assistance for families to assisting with treatments,” explained Rickert. “I definitely looked very closely into that before I got involved. You can’t help but be moved by everything they do.”
Raising awareness through his campaign is one of the things Rickert is most proud of. He used his authority in the sports and entertainment fields to spread the word about his campaign across the nation.
Ethan Zohn, former soccer player and winner of CBS’s realty series, “Survivor: Africa,” and two-time Hodgkin lymphoma survivor spoke recently about his motivation to use his celebrity to be part of a movement “working to bring cancer to extinction.” He remembered the feeling of walking into the waiting room at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and seeing so many others waiting too.
“We sit there like strangers but we’re so connected by this horrible disease,” Zohn has been quoted saying. He decided to use his celebrity to be part of a movement “working to bring cancer to extinction.”
Rickert’s strategy to use a text to donate campaign combined with social media was something he had used in the past to help one of his pro sports clients raise money for a cause. Because of his influence in the sports and entertainment world, Rickert was able to get support for the cause from a widespread area.
Rickert proudly stated, “Not just from my home area of upstate New York, but I had people from all over the country doing it for me through my social media connections. A lot of my clients joined in, donated and re-tweeted. For me, it was just so nice to see all the different people, whether they were my players, fans or reporters who all texted to donate for me. It was really very nice.”
“Everyone else did events locally and did very well with them,” recalled Rickert. “Some held auctions, someone had a fashion show…it’s kind of like an Apprentice-style contest to figure out how you are going to raise funds. When the LLS organization asked me to run, I kept thinking, ‘What am I going to do?’ Because I’m so busy, it’s hard for me to set up or attend events.”
As a past sponsor, and now Man of the Year, Rickert looks forward to attending many of the future events. “I certainly feel like I have to make it up to them for missing all the press conferences and the photos taken during the grand finale. It would have been nice to be able to partake in that and to help further promote the cause,” he expressed.
Donations are still being accepted by texting “LLS” to 80888 to make a five dollar pledge to help the more than one million people in the country who are living with, or are in remission from a blood cancer. A new diagnosis is made every four minutes. These new cases of leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma will account for nine percent of the 1.5 million new cancer diagnoses in the U.S. this year, facts represented on the LLS website.
For more information on JR Rickert, visit http://agentjr.com
For information on the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, visit http://lls.org