Fundraising Alumnus Vies for ‘Man of the Year’ Honor

May 2, 2016

Sean O’Connell, BCOT ’06, developed a passion for service during his career at Wentworth. Since graduating, he has devoted much of his time to charity work, a commitment that has put him in contention for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) “Man of the Year” honor.

The Man & Woman of the Year competition looks at efforts from around the country to raise funds for LLS blood cancer research. O’Connell was recently nominated by his friend (and past Woman of the Year), Anastasia Kaloyanides, and now has until June 9 to reach his fundraising goal of $150,000.

O’Connell’s approach has been to bring people together and let them have fun while raising money. He has organized the Hyannis Hyball Invitational on Cape Cod since 2010, recently hosted a Mario Kart 64 outing and a trivia contest, and is planning a May 7th bash timed with the Kentucky Derby. Every event donates 100% of the proceeds to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Massachusetts Chapter.

“I want these (events) to be a celebration and I want people to have a good time while doing good for others,” says O’Connell, a clinical systems analyst for Fresenius Medical Care. “What makes me proud is seeing old friends, new friends, just a hodgepodge of people coming together and having a blast.”

O’Connell’s first foray into fundraising came with the Hyannis Hyball event. The inaugural softball game was held simply for a small collection of friends, but quickly grew into an annual ritual comprised of several different activities and meals more spread over a weekend at Camp Lyndon. This year’s event is open to all and will take place August 12. The first $4,000 raised will go to LLS, while other proceeds (as they have in previous years) will benefit the Sean Collier Scholarship Fund, named for the MIT officer killed three days following the Boston Marathon bombings.

“I had been in a few kickball leagues with Collier and he was a great guy,” says O’Connell. “The scholarship pays for books, tuition, uniforms, and anything else a self-sponsored police academy candidate would need but might have trouble affording. Sean was self-sponsored at the academy, which makes this award and scholarship that much more personal and meaningful for the winner.”

In the lead up to Hyball, O’Connell has been extremely active fundraising for LLS and meeting survivors of blood cancers.

“I’ve already talked with so many people and their stories are so inspiring,” says O’Connell. “I’m working hard over the next ten weeks to raise a substantial money, while keeping it fun and providing a few smiles along the way.”

O’Connell is also gearing up for the Kentucky Derby Benefit Party at Scholars in Boston on School Street. All monies raised will be matched by GE and prizes will be awarded for best hat, ugliest jacket, and most coordinated couple. Raffle items include concert tickets, a weekend on Cape Cod, and Harpoon gift packages will be available, along with a 50/50 raffle.

“The ticket includes all drinks and food. Plus, it’s an excuse to wear a hideous jacket, huge hat, and bow tie,” says O’Connell.

In addition to supporting O’Connell and his causes by attending his events, interested parties may donate and/or vote for him as Man of the Year on his official MWOY page. Seventy-six percent of every dollar raised goes directly to cancer research and patient advocacy. Additionally, all monies raised specifically benefit the Massachusetts Chapter of LLS, which includes Maine, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island.

Whether he wins or loses the competition, though, O’Connell is proud of his work and plans to continue fundraising for many years, particularly for those afflicted with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

“I’m learning so much about these diseases and I’ve read countless stories from patients and their families,” says O’Connell. “This work is so important to me because I truly believe that a cure for blood cancers is a possibility within our lifetimes.”

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