A local chapter of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society fights cancer by setting sail on San Francisco Bay.

By Roger Grody

The Greater Bay Area chapter of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) recently hosted the Pacific Union Leukemia Cup Regatta on San Francisco Bay, the centerpiece of a fundraising weekend that has raised more than $7 million for cancer research over its 12-year history.

In addition to the Regatta, the weekend of October 21-22, 2017 featured the third annual Perkins Challenge sailing competition launched from San Francisco’s St. Francis Yacht Club, a Poker Run for non-racing powerboats and a $1,000 per ticket VIP gala. Yachting has become a major theme for LLS nationally, with more than 45 Leukemia Cup Regattas now held across the country, from St. Petersburg to Seattle. In the Bay Area, the prominent San Francisco-based luxury real estate firm Pacific Union International is the Regatta’s title sponsor.

Jennifer Daly, campaign director for the Greater Bay Area Leukemia Cup Regatta, reports, “Since Pacific Union plays such a large role in the Marin County community, they’re a natural fit to be the title sponsor.” Pacific Union CEO Mark McLaughlin reinforces the natural attraction of supporting an organization close to home. “This is a community event, and we’re part of the community,” says the chief executive, whose own sailing background makes this corporate sponsorship all the more rewarding.

McLaughlin was initially drawn to the LLS Regatta by a friend who was personally committed to the cause, which Daly suggests is representative of many volunteers and sponsors. “Our committee and all our volunteers feel a special connection to the LLS mission and sailing,” she says, explaining that organizing the Regatta weekend is a year-round effort. “It takes a small army of folks to make sure everyone has a great time and comes back year after year,” she says.

Approximately 100 yachts participated in the recent event, and the weekend’s activities were expected to generate about $700,000 in proceeds. After a decade of sponsoring the event at various levels, this was the second year that Pacific Union International was the title sponsor of the Regatta, and several executives from the company participated as skippers. Cancer survivors were named honorary skippers, including actress Brittany Daniel, a non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma survivor who was joined by her husband Adam Touni, a Pacific Union real estate professional.

McLaughlin reports this collaboration with LLS is part of Pacific Union’s corporate culture of giving, represented by the company’s active Community Fund. “Each real estate professional donates to the fund from commission proceeds and each region has a team of real estate professionals that direct the fund’s donations,” he explains. Indicating a major milestone was reached this year, McLaughlin reports, “We celebrated $l million in total giving to local nonprofits since launching the Community Fund 25 years ago.”

Pacific Union and other contributors, large and small, are making a significant difference in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s pursuit of medical advancements, and the Bay Area chapter is a national leader. “We’re proud of the fact we’ve been the top fundraising regatta in the country for 10 years now,” says Daly.

Actress Brittany Daniel with husband Adam Touni

Pacific Union CEO Mark McLaughlin

Photo by Moanalani Jeffrey