The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of the Eastern Shore is pleased this year to welcome the first Wicomico County candidates into the fifth annual Man and Woman of the Year campaign.

Candidates Andrew Tawes and Captain Willie Dykes are co-hosts of the weekly television program Outdoors Delmarva that airs on WBOC-TV 16.

Tawes and Dykes will each represent their own team under the umbrella of Gateway Subaru’s sponsorship. The partnership was born out of Gateway Subaru’s sponsorship of Outdoors Delmarva, and all parties involved are excited to work together on this campaign.

Astrid Bravo, marketing coordinator at Gateway Subaru, is managing Team Andrew.

“It was mentioned that LLS had no foothold in Wicomico County, so we got together thinking of what we could do to help,” Bravo said. “We were surprised. We decided to go ahead and start that campaign. We reached out to LLS, and it happened to be the right time with Man and Woman of the Year.

“We asked Andrew and Captain Willie to be the faces, because they have the biggest following, so what better way to get the word out, using the spokespersons of the Eastern Shore. They’re the faces, but we’re all working together to create the events and raise money; and not just raising money, but also raising awareness in Wicomico County, which is one of the main things that we decided was our goal.”

While the teams hope to do a lot with the campaign this year, they are also working to create momentum that will carry the campaign on the Lower Shore for years to come.

Tawes said that part of the reason he wanted to participate with the campaign is because he is a father to three sons.

“If I’m not mistaken, leukemia is the most common form of cancer in kids,” Tawes said. “Luckily, they’re all happy and healthy right now, but the thought is always there that you never know. If something should happen, then it’s always good to know that there’s a resource available for kids and families, the people that have to go through this.”

Tawes also appreciates that the research funded by LLS has benefitted those fighting other forms of cancer, not only blood cancers.

When asked why he wanted to participate, Dykes said he knows many families on the Shore have lost children to leukemia. He recalled the story of a particular child from the area who died many years ago from a form of leukemia that is now treatable because of the research funded through LLS and other organizations.

“If the research keeps on, it may save anyone from having to go through that,” Dykes said. “It (the campaign) was not something I was looking around for, but when it came up, I said it’s perfect. I’m ready.”

Dykes and Tawes said they are excited to campaign and do what they can to further the efforts of the LLS here on the Eastern Shore, and they have a bit of an advantage when it comes to the well-established platform from which they have to work.

“We have a modest, but present audience that we can reach, and we’re recognizable, and this is what that’s for,” Dykes said.

“It’s exciting, and a little frightening, because I don’t really know what to expect. This is all new to us, and we’re looking forward to doing what we can,” Tawes added. “Other than just having fun and doing outdoors stuff, we get to hopefully reach out to a lot of people, and get people aware of what they can do.”

With four years of campaigns already under their belts, the organizers of the Man and Woman of the Year work as a well-oiled machine throughout the ten crazy weeks of campaigning. As newcomers, Tawes and Dykes are eager to see how it all pans out at the finale gala in June.

“The organization is pumped,” said Tawes. “They’re really involved, and I’m excited to see what the end result will be. From what they’ve said about how it started out, it’s a great cause and they really stand behind it and believe in it. I’m curious to see how it turns out.”

The Gateway Subaru teams will host a yard sale fundraiser at the dealership on Saturday, April 29 with food, family-friendly activities, raffles, and lots of interesting vendors, to benefit Team Andrew and Team Willie for the LLS Man and Woman of the Year campaign.

They are hoping the dynamic of their friendly team rivalry will help to boost donations and awareness of the campaign and all the good things that the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of the Eastern Shore does for the community.

The finale gala will be held Saturday, June 10 at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Resort in Cambridge.

Follow me on Twitter @victoriadorstar and on Instagram @dorchester.star.

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