Nicole McGlothlin LLS Woman of the Year

Sundance Homes owner recognized for her fund-raising efforts.

When Nicole McGlothlin got involved with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LSS) almost a decade ago, she just wanted to support a friend’s fund-raising efforts. But those early years with Team in Training turned into an ongoing commitment to the LLS, and this year McGlothlin achieved one of the highest honors the Society awards—2015 LLS Woman of the Year.

The 10-week campaign for Man and Woman of the Year, an annual fund-raising event, consists of men and women competing to raise the most money for LLS. This year there were three in each category.

“Every dollar raised is a vote for that candidate,” explains Sharon Keeling, Senior Campaign Manager for the Iowa Chapter of the LLS. “Each candidate organizes fund-raising events, sells raffle tickets and seats to our annual Gala, all sorts of things to raise the most money.”

Because it’s an intense, nearly three-month campaign, candidates each form their own committee, which provides assistance with planning and running the various events.

“Nicole just did a phenomenal job,” Keeling says. “It seemed like she had something going on almost every night of the campaign.”

McGlothlin, a mortgage broker with First Mortgage, and her husband, Kevin, own Sundance Homes, a custom home builder in Des Moines. She said her work with area professionals and retailers provided a great foundation for the campaign. In addition to sending out letters to family and friends and selling tickets and advertising space for the Gala, she also hosted some private events.

“We held a poker tournament, a country bash, an old-fashioned keg party, and a fantastic wine auction,” McGlothlin says. In addition, several area restaurants sponsored one-night events, donating their proceeds from the evening to her campaign.

“I’d served on the committee for other candidates before,” she says. “So I knew what a commitment was involved. And I could never have done it if my husband hadn’t been such a rock through the whole thing.”

Keeling says, “Man and Woman of the Year candidates are nominated by a dedicated committee. The nominees are all individuals who are passionate about what we do. They’re philanthropic and usually pretty competitive.”

She says that the most passionate fund-raisers are those who have a direct connection to what the LLS does.

“Most either have a family member or close friend who has been touched by the disease, so they’ve seen firsthand what we do,” she explains.

McGlothlin agrees. “I first got involved with a campaign six or seven years ago. Over the years, my work with LLS introduced us to Matt Mausser, who was very active with the Society. His father had passed away from leukemia, so it meant a lot to him, and our friendship got us much more involved.”

In fact, he had won Man of the Year himself, and McGlothlin participated in a number of fund-raising events during that campaign. Three months later, his then-4-year-old son, Joe, was diagnosed with leukemia.

“Leukemia isn’t a hereditary disease,” McGlothlin explains. “So the chances of Matt’s dad and his son both having it are just incredible.”

Matt Mausser’s situation—and words to McGlothlin—have been an ongoing inspiration for her own support of the LLS.

“‘You never know when you’ll be the consumer of your own philanthropy,’” McGlothlin says, quoting Matt. “That was his response. All the support he’d given was now being given to him and his family.”

McGlothlin’s love for the Mausser family fueled her passion for the LLS and its work, and her 10-week campaign raised $116,000 by the night of the Gala in early May and another $5,000 since then. Altogether, the Man and Woman of the Year teams raised almost $400,000.

“Our mission is to cure blood cancers and improve the quality of life for patients and their families. Basically we’re the voice for blood cancer patients,” Keeling says.

Funds raised by the Man and Woman of the Year campaigns go toward a variety of services and research projects, many of which are based right here in Iowa.

“We fund researchers at the University of Iowa, and a good portion of our funds go directly to that research,” Keeling says.

McGlothlin adds, “My goal is to still raise awareness and to keep people with blood cancers alive. I personally know survivors who are here as a result of medicine our dollars helped develop in the last 10 to 15 years.”

In addition to research, the LLS provides patient education services, co-pay assistance for medical treatments and prescriptions, travel assistance for those who have to undergo treatment away from their homes, and a Back to School program that works with families and educators to help children return to school during their months of treatment.

For the LLS, the Boy and Girl of the Year, both blood cancer survivors, serve as the face of the campaign each spring. For McGlothlin, the face of the LLS will always be the Mausser family.

“My work in the home construction and mortgage industries didn’t really prepare me to be a philanthropist,” McGlothlin says. “My friendship with the Maussers did. But my friendships and contacts professionally have supported me and supported the LLS because of me. I hope my work with the Society shows others how much is needed and how much one person can do. Like Matt says, you never know when you’ll be the one who needs the support from these programs.”