Great Falls resident Bryan Thomas last year led a 35-member team that raised $1.2 million to support the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
That tally, which was the largest for a team in the Delaware-Maryland-Virginia region and second overall in nation, resulted in the organization’s recently recognizing Thomas as its Man of the Year for the Washington, D.C., area.
“More than the award and notoriety, it was the opportunity to give back and inspire others to do it again,” said Thomas, who as a member of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s leadership team now will recruit and help other fund-raising teams.
The team Thomas led last year, which consisted mostly of co-workers at World Wide Technology, was among 80 fund-raising crews around the U.S. and Canada. The team’s mantra was “Make a New World Happen.”
Because of the pandemic, the group conducted much of its fund-raising digitally. The team held one in-person event last year, a May 17 charity golf tournament at River Bend Golf & Country Club in Great Falls.
The team’s creativity was a big factor in its success, Thomas said, but so was the fund-raising effort’s timing, which occurred a little more than a year after the pandemic began.
“In 2020, it would have been a tall order,” he said, citing lockdowns and other measures early during the crisis. “In 2021, people across the board wanted to be part of something bigger than what they were doing at work or individually.”
The golf tournament’s timing also was fortuitous, as the bulk of Brood X cicadas had not burst out of the ground yet for their once-every-17-years shot at life, love and procreation in the fresh air.
A Great Falls resident since 2015, Thomas has worked for St. Louis-based World Wide Technology for 22 years and serves as the firm’s senior vice president for the public sector. The company “gives employees the chance to give back and supports them in their philanthropic efforts,” he said.
Thomas serves on the board of directors for the United Service Organizations (USO) of Metropolitan Washington-Baltimore and in January joined the Advisory Board for the Children’s Science Center in Northern Virginia.
He previously served on the board of directors for the ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) Association’s St. Louis Regional chapter and participated in its annual Ice Bucket Bash.
Founded in 1949, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s mission is to cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma and bolster the quality of life for patients and their families.
The organization is “very open with how much of its money goes to care, research, development and cure,” Thomas said. “About 87 or 88 percent goes into one of those buckets.”