by Nicole Rosselot
The Cleveland Clinic recently nominated Sagamore Hills resident Beth Starek as a candidate for the Cleveland/Akron Leukemia and Lymphoma Society 2022 Man/ Woman of the Year.
Starek, an oncology nurse and clinical program manager with Cleveland Clinic Children’s infusion center for pediatric oncology, will compete with other nominees in a fundraising campaign that began March 24 and runs through June 3. The top two fundraisers advance to the national competition, as do any nominees who raise $100,000 or more.
“I would love to win, but I have very stiff competition this year,” Starek said. “A little girl that I took care of is [also a candidate]. She is a fantastic little girl who has beaten leukemia, so I know she is going to shine.”
Money raised for LLS supports its mission of focusing on blood cancers like leukemia and lymphoma. This includes funding research, helping drugs get approved, providing educational, financial and personal support to cancer patients, and offering free education seminars for clinical providers.
“I feel like LLS is really well-rounded as an organization as far as how they are trying to accomplish their mission,” Starek said.
Starek’s inspiration for her fundraising campaign is her first husband Luke Krebbs, who passed away from leukemia in 2008. LLS provided support to Starek and Krebbs while he battled cancer.
“I have a personal connection with LLS because they really supported Luke throughout his treatment and I thought they did amazing things,” she said. “It just made a world of difference to feel like you had somebody there for you.”
Starek remains connected to LLS, and for the past six years, she has been team captain for the Cleveland Clinic’s Light The Night fundraising team. The LLS Light the Night Walk is a fundraising event in which participants walk in honor of those who are touched by cancer.
“Since my husband passed away, my way of trying to remember him has always been keeping involved with LLS,” Starek explained. “In the last six years that I have been team captain, we’ve raised over $77,000.”
As a nominee for the Man/Woman of the Year, Starek set a personal fundraising goal of $50,000. This would earn her team the Hero Award, but more importantly, Starek would win the opportunity to attach Luke Krebb’s name to a research award.
“This is my way to honor him. … If I raise $50,000, I can link my late husband’s name to a research grant,” she said. “I am trying to move mountains to get this $50,000, because it would be such a huge honor for him and his family.”
To help her achieve this goal, Starek assembled a team of 10 people, including family, friends and her husband, Joe Starek. Her team’s name is Simply The Beth.
“I couldn’t do this without them,” she explained. “They are working tirelessly to get all this done and all these fundraising events organized.”
To support Starek’s campaign, visit pages.lls.org/mwoy/noh/cle22/bstarek. ∞