January-February 2017 | CRUSHIN' CANCER

CRUSHIN' CANCEREmily and her Nana, Beverley Bunce



Centreville’s Emily Murray is named the LLS Woman of the Year for the Eastern Shore after leading a $130,000 campaign

Written By: Robbie Tarpley Raffish

First-grade teacher Emily Murray spends her days chasing children — which, it turns out, is excellent training to build the stamina needed to crush fundraising goals. Murray, the leader of team “Crushin’ Orange,” chased down $130,000 in just 10 weeks, resulting in Murray being named the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) “Woman of the Year — Eastern Shore” for 2016.

“Our LLS team is made up of really committed people,” said Murray. “My nana, Beverley Bunce, had a very rare type of blood cancer, called small cell cancer. She was alive when my Uncle Tom began the team in 2015, and she was very proud of all of us.”

Murray, her mom, brother and sister have been on the team since its inception, along with several other family members and friends. The first year, under Tom Bunce’s direction, the team raised $38,000, and Tom was named “Man of the Year — Eastern Shore” for his efforts.  The “Man/Woman of the Year” awards are based solely on amount of funds raised. Every dollar donated to a team represents a ‘vote’ for the team leader. 

Murray set a goal of $50,000 and began marshalling resources. The window to raise funds runs from April 1 to mid-June, when the awards are given. Set-up time begins nearly as soon as the previous award ceremony ends.  During the two-in-a-half-month donation period, the team coordinated three events, including a bar crawl in downtown Annapolis, a family event at Old Bowie Town Grille and a 1980s-themed beach party. 

“Our plan was to spread the events out geographically, so we could reach as many people as possible,” explained Murray. “We also established a Facebook page for information and a fundraising page where people who could not attend could donate.”

Drawings, 50/50 raffles, sports memorabilia, live auctions, silent auctions and ticket sales drove in donations. The events were very well attended and the donation page was very active. Murray received an added boost from “the other side of my family, my dad’s dad, who runs the Murray Foundation.” (Each family member has the opportunity to direct a donation to a charity each year.)

“I emailed ‘Murrays’ from all over the world to ask for donations — people I had never met,” added Murray, and more donations poured in. 

Of the $476,800 total funds raised in the region, Crushin’ Orange was responsible for nearly 30 percent. 

“The funds raised and donated from team Crushin’ Orange will have a direct impact on blood cancer research,” said Jennifer Veil, campaign manager, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. “LLS funds only the best and most promising researchers and projects, and we are working toward funding the next round of breakthroughs through these bright researchers. We can then work toward translating these breakthroughs into new safe and effective treatments and therapies, to provide better outcomes for patients. Large funds such as this will also contribute to better collaboration among scientists and doctors, as well as enable partnerships with biotech companies, to advance the clinical trial process faster, thus putting treatments into the hands of patients quicker.”

Teams that raise $50,000 or more may direct where its funding is allocated. Crushin’ Orange directed its funds toward research about, and a cure for, chronic myeloid leukemia, a cancer of the bone marrow and blood.

Sadly, as the team was organizing its 2016 campaign, Murray’s beloved Nana passed away. 

“She was the strongest person I’d ever known, and she fought hard for two long years,” said Murray. “We have such good memories of her though: playing Scrabble, teaching my sister and me to make doll clothes, her Hungarian goulash recipe and her birthday celebrations.” 

Planning for the Crushin’ Orange 2017 campaign is well underway. “I had no idea what I was getting into when I started, but I would do it over and over again,” said Murray. “The campaign only takes 10 weeks of my time, and it helps people who deal with [these diseases] all of their lives.”

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