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La Jolla Bar Association Member Raises $50,000 to Fight Blood Cancer and Support Patients

Leukemia and Lymphoma SocietyIn January 2013, LJBA Board Member and Blanchard, Krasner & French attorney Abigail Stephenson (“Abbey”) was nominated for Woman of the Year for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (“LLS”) by Rachel Peniche, granddaughter of the late, well-loved La Jolla resident Hugh Friedman.

The Man & Woman of the Year campaign raises funds for LLS to find a cure for blood cancer and to support patients and their families. It’s a one dollar one vote competition where the candidate who raises the most money “wins”.  After accepting her nomination, Abbey had 10 weeks from March 5, 2013 to May 11, 2013, to raise as much as possible.  To help her raise her initial goal of $20,000 she recruited a team of 14 friends and family members including Rachel Peniche—aptly named Team 2 Degrees due to the team members’ personal connections to blood cancer.

Abigail Stephenson
Abigail Stephenson

Abbey’s connections to LLS and blood cancer run deep.  In 2001, she took a semester off from college to be her father Mark Gurney’s caregiver as he went through treatment in preparation of an anticipated bone marrow transplant.  Unfortunately, her father came down with pneumonia before the transplant and passed away on March 17, 2001, just two days after his 51st birthday.  Around the same time Abbey got involved with LLS through its Team in Training (“TNT”) fundraiser.  She completed her first TNT race—a marathon in Anchorage, Alaska—in her father’s memory in June 2001.  She met her husband Tyson Stephenson, a blood cancer survivor, at her second TNT race in Lake Tahoe.

From March to May 2013, Abbey and Team 2 Degrees shared this story and their own personal stories as they solicited donations from friends, family, colleagues, and businesses.  Within roughly three weeks they had exceed their initial goal of $20,000.  Through the incredible generosity of those around them, when it was all said and one Team 2 Degrees raised over $50,000!  A research grant will be named to acknowledge this significant achievement.

All of the candidates for Man & Woman of the Year celebrated together on May 11, 2013, at a Grand Final Gala at the Omni Hotel in the Gaslamp District.  The Man & Woman of the Year campaign had a record breaking year raising over $330,000!!

The mission of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) is: Cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families.  LLS is the world’s largest voluntary health agency dedicated to blood cancer. LLS funds lifesaving blood cancer research around the world and provides free information and support services.  For more information visit