The Leukemia Cup Regatta
Sailors from the Pine Harbor Yacht Club in Birmingham, Ala., came together in 1988 to raise money in memory of a friend who had lost his battle with leukemia. Twenty-five years later, what is now known as the Leukemia Cup Regatta has raised more than $38 million.
Throughout our region, racers, cruisers, paddle and kite boarders, and even non-sailors come together to “Raise a Sail to Save a Life.” The event has become a major fundraiser for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, the world’s largest voluntary health agency dedicated to seeking a cure for blood cancers and improving the quality of life of patients and their families.
Over the past 30 years funds raised by the regatta and other events have helped dramatically increase the cure rate. Just ask the regatta’s national chairman, worldclass sailor, television commentator and author Gary Jobson.
In 2003, while covering the America’s Cup, Jobson himself was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. After 10 years of supporting these regattas, Jobson found himself on the receiving end of treatments that were not available 20 years prior. Today, as a cancer survivor, his message is simple but powerful: “When you help out other people, in the end, it might just be you that is helped the most.”
Jobson will deliver his inspirational message in June at the kickoff for Houston Yacht Club’s quest to win their fifth Jobson Cup, awarded to the highest fundraising organization in the country.
Regatta weekend has become more than just a sailboat race. For Savannah, Ga., it is about a community coming together for a common cause. “Each year the incoming event chairperson gets to select the types of events they which to feature,” said Marty Siederer, senior director of campaign development for LLS. “One year the chairperson was an avid runner, so a 5K was part of the weekend’s events.”
Not only is this “something for everyone’s interest” approach helping Savannah Yacht Club raise more money for LLS, it also exposes the non-sailing participant to its membership in hopes of encouraging them to take up sailing. This year’s regatta events will include an In-shore Fishing Tournament and Tennis Classic Tournament. Savannah’s unique approach that has helped SYC raise more than $3.5 million for LLS.
One of the newest regattas in our region takes place at Pass Christian Yacht Club along the shores of the Mississippi. Members, who previously participated in the Leukemia Cup at the Southern Yacht Club in New Orleans wanted to try an event of their own. In just two years, PCYC became the tenth highest fundraiser in the country. Although Southern YC may have lost some of their participants, they still raised over $217,000 placing them fourth in the nation.
To help each participant run a successful campaign LLS provides a “tool chest” of resources, including sample fundraising letters and useful webcasts. The greatest motivation though, comes from the local Honorary Skippers and blood cancer survivors. Participants of the 2011 River Dunes, N.C., regatta will never forget Eugene Seward’s emotional speech delivered just hours after having a treatment for Myeloma. Last year they sailed in memory of Eugene who died of complications from his treatment.
National sponsors such as Gosling’s Rum, West Marine and North Sails also provide incentives for monetary milestones. Teams also compete for Local and National Top Fundraising boat. In 2012, both of those honors went to Team “Mongo” from the Charleston Yacht Club, who raised $65,000.
Individuals raising more than $10K qualify for a Fantasy Sail with Gary Jobson. National sponsor, Offshore Sailing School, will be hosting this year’s event at their Captiva Island, Fla., location. “(Co-owners) Doris and Steve Colgate have donated over $80,000 to LLS in the past two years, and this year will be providing the boats and facility for the Fantasy sail,” said Siederer. “They have been a huge support of our mission.”
This summer support one of the Leukemia Cup Regatta in your area (see adjacent list). To see how your yacht club can participate in 2014 or to become a sponsor, contact Siederer ([email protected]).
SOUTHEAST LEUKEMIA CUP REGATTAS
Southern Yacht Club, New Orleans
Isles Yacht Club, Punta Gorda
River Dunes, Oriental
Houston Yacht Club, Houston
Stingray Point Marina, Deltaville
Pass Christian Yacht Club, Pass Christian
Buccaneer Yacht Club, Mobile
Savannah Yacht Club, Savannah
Charleston Sailing Community, Charleston