Keenan and Colby Fowle

Being nominated for the Man of the Year Campaign for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) is an honor and a privilege for the impassioned individuals selected each year, but it is also a challenge, as each nominee strives to raise as much money as possible in just ten weeks time. It’s a challenge that local nominee and cancer survivor Jeff Keenan is taking in stride as he gears up for ten weeks of fundraising for a cause that lies very dear to his heart…increasing research and awareness for not only the LLS, but for all types of cancer. We sat down with Keenan this week to discuss his plans for the upcoming weeks, including how we all can help out, pitch in and donate.

Each year the Man/Woman of the Year Campaign is held nationwide by the LLS  in an effort to raise funds for blood cancer research. The campaign began in 1990, and has garnered millions of dollars each year. In fact, last year $22.6 million was raised. Keenan was quick to point out that one notable aspect of LLS is the fact that while they focus on blood cancer, much of the research has resulted in treatments for other types of cancer.

In total, 12 nominees will campaign on the Eastern Shore, raising money in honor of this year’s  Boy and Girl of the Year. Keenan is running for local “warrior princess” and Girl of the Year Colby Fowle, who has been battling Acute Lymphoblastic (ALL) Leukemia since she was diagnosed at the age of 3, in January of 2013.

Keenan, who has been in remission for two years, was both thrilled and honored when he first heard he had been nominated for Man of the Year. “I’ve been wanting to find some way to give back,” he explained, alluding to the incredible support he felt from the local community as he was battling Hodgkins Lymphoma. “This time around, it’s not all about me, it’s about giving back.” Keenan is also eager to have a platform for spreading awareness for what undoubtedly has affected each and every one of us on some level. “Basically I get to be an ambassador to promote cancer research and to raise awareness.”

The campaign officially kicks off Friday, March 29 and continues through June 6. Keenan has set a minimum goal for himself of raising $10,000. With the help of his team, Keenan will host events, spread the word through social networking, and work to collect donations. He even has an app set up on his phone so that at any given time he can take (tax deductible) donations, even by credit card. Keenan is also relying heavily on social media and word of mouth.

Keenan stressed his support for, and belief in, the LLS, applauding the incredible work the LLS has done not only for cancer research, but also in helping victims and survivors live more fulfilling lives. He added that 78 cents of every dollar raised goes directly towards research, which is a remarkable ratio compared to other organizations. “This money is being used towards something of value and its going somewhere.”

So far, Keenan has three fundraising events scheduled. The first will be held Wednesday, April 2nd at Hooked in Ocean City, where Keenan works. From 4:30 to 9pm Hooked will be hosting a Dine and Donate night, with 25% of all proceeds going towards the LLS. On Monday, April 14th, Keenan will be stepping behind the bar at Burley Oak in Berlin to guest bartend and raise funds starting at 8pm. The night will include specials, live entertainment courtesy of local musician Nate Clendenan and a 50/50 raffle. On April 16th, Hooked and Burley Oak will join forces for the cause, with a ticketed beer pairing event, to be held at Hooked. In addition to the events there are numerous ways to donate, whether it be through the app on Keenan’s phone or via his website. But don’t rush to donate just yet, as the campaign does not kick-off until March 29th.

keenan group shot

Keenan and fellow nominees