|Mark Lenz, center, shakes hands with old friends at the|
2011 Links Fore Leukemia Golf Tournament.
My introduction to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society came rather abruptly in 1995 when a friend and former colleague of mine was diagnosed with leukemia. Up until then, I did not personally know anybody that had been diagnosed with cancer, much less a cancer of the blood. Jim Willis and I worked together at Arthur Anderson for several years before his diagnosis.
During that fight against leukemia, Jim met Bob Barker, another leukemia patient at UT Southwestern and avid golfer. Together, they decided to combine their love of golf with the personal battles they were both waging to beat leukemia. The first Links Fore Leukemia Golf Tournament was held in the Spring of 1997 and all of the proceeds benefited The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) and its mission to find a cure for blood cancers. The tournament was made up of a small group of dedicated people who stood behind Jim and Bob and their fight to beat leukemia. Sadly, shortly after the first event Jim lost his battle, leaving behind his wife and two young children. Bob, along with Jim’s family and friends, used his passing as motivation to grow the tournament and continue to give money to LLS in Jim’s honor. What had started as a golf tournament took on a much deeper purpose for all of the golfers involved.
I played in and fundraised for the golf tournament in Jim’s honor the first couple of years but it was not enough. I wanted to do more. It was then that I decided to join the Links Fore Leukemia Golf tournament committee and work with a team of people to plan and execute the tournament. We worked relentlessly to recruit new sponsors, attract golfers and make it one of Dallas/Fort Worth’s most exclusive golf tournaments. Every person who has ever served on the Links Fore Leukemia Golf Tournament committee or supported our event is proud of the tournament, what it represents and the impact it is having on the cutting-edge research LLS is funding.
Not long after I got involved with the Links Fore Leukemia Golf Tournament’s committee, I took the next step and joined the Board of Trustees for the North Texas Chapter of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. This is a role I have served in for the last several years.
I am proud to say that Jim’s tournament co-founder, Bob Barker, survived his battle with leukemia and remains very involved with the Links Fore Leukemia Golf Tournament. He is instrumental in recruiting sponsors and players and carrying on the true mission of the event. Bob still suffers from a number of serious side effects following his bone marrow transplant many years ago but that has not dampened his spirit and determination to find a cure for blood cancers. He will at the 2013 Links Fore Leukemia Golf Tournament on Monday, May 6th. I have never seen anyone work harder for the cause and not feel sorry for the hand he has been dealt.
Recently, I have been able to put one of my other passions to work for LLS. I took up photography several years ago and enjoy the challenge of making images tell a story. LLS events in North Texas provide me an opportunity to capture many different stories; whether it’s a recovering patient, a long term survivor, a family honoring the memory of a lost loved one. I have taken photos at the Big D Climb, the Leukemia Cup Regatta, the Lonestar Blood Cancer Conference and at the Light the Night walks in Fort Worth and Dallas. I hope that some of the images will tell a story that will inspire others to participate in LLS events.
The main reason I continue to work with the Board of Trustees and on the Links Fore Leukemia Golf Tournament is to help raise funds and awareness so that those survivors like Bob can have a better chance at a normal life and that more blood cancer patients can join Bob as a survivor.
Registration for the 2013 Links Fore Leukemia Golf Tournament Presented by Safety-Kleen is now open. Click here to register and learn more about the tournament on Monday, May 6th. Golfers will tee off on both the Old American and The Tribute Golf Courses in this scramble tournament. Reserve your spot today!