6-Year-Old Cancer Survivor Inspires LLS Fundraising Campaign

Liam Vest and local sports fan combine to raise money to fight blood cancers

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Last August, 6-year-old Liam Vest won his four-year battle with leukemia. On NBC 7 we showed you the parade that was thrown in his honor. Since then, things have been fantastic, with him back at school work and soccer practice.

“He’s nine months off-treatment and he’s doing really well,” says Allison Vent, Liam’s mom. “He gets monthly bloodwork and every month it’s been really clear. So, he is going excellent off-treatment.”

During his treatment, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society was a massive help to Liam and his family.

“LLS helped me get through that,” says Liam. “LLS is amazing. They work hard to help kids beat cancer.”

Liam is amazing, too, which is why he was named the LLS Boy of the Year for 2021. He has the Instagram account to prove it, where he shows off a billion-megawatt smile. If you have a Boy of the Year you need an Adult of the Year.

That’s where hockey comes in.

“If we’ve learned anything in the last 12 to 15 months it’s the power of community and bringing people together and really using people’s different connections and networks to help people like Liam here, and families that going through a tough time, out,” says Derek Dawson, Manager of Corporate Partnerships for the San Diego Gulls.

(That may or may not be Derek in the Gulliver suit at a Gulls game)

Derek is a San Diego native, arguably the biggest San Diego sports fan you’ll meet, and now one of 11 nominees for the LLS Man & Woman of the Year. To go with that, each nominee makes a serious fundraising effort.

Since its inception in 1990 his event has raised more than $400 million. LLS uses a large chunk of that to fund new treatments for childhood blood cancer research and treatments. The last year has been an extremely difficult time for everyone.

That’s even more of a reason to help as much as you can right now.

“Cancer doesn’t go on hold for COVID,” says Dawson. “Cancer is going to keep going until we stop it. I had to step up and know that I have a small platform to speak on and I’ll use it to the best of my ability.”

Derek Dawson, Man & Woman of the Year Candidate.

This is a competition, and Derek would love to win this, but he and Liam say they don’t particularly care which nominee gets the money because it all goes to people who need it, many of them in San Diego.

LLS has distributed more than $1.5M in co-pay assistance to more than 500 people in America's Finest City, nearly $2M to Southern California patients and their families , and more than $3.1M to researchers including Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute, La Jolla Institute for Immunology, and The Scripps Research Institute.

“Thank you Derek and thank you Man & Woman of the Year candidates for helping kids like me. Every dollar counts,” says Liam, who is obviously not just one of the strongest kids on the planet, but was definitely made for TV.

“I was made for TV! All these meetings I’ve had!” says Liam. With help from good people like Derek Dawson, and anyone reading this who can help, Liam will have plenty more years of TV moments.

To contribute to Derek’s campaign, click here. If you want to learn more about the full list of candidates and learn a little more about the competition, click here.

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