Asaf German said he grew up with nothing and played stickball in the streets of Brooklyn. This year, the 47-year-old Lloyd Neck resident has become Long Island’s official Man of the Year for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society after raising a record-breaking $470,000 in 10 weeks.
“What he’s been able to accomplish is priceless,” said Meagan Doyle, who serves as campaign director for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in its Melville office.
Each year the society recruits candidates to compete and run a 10-week fundraising campaign. Proceeds go towards finding a cure for blood cancers leukemia, lymphoma myeloma and Hodgkin’s disease. Eight candidates on Long Island competed and collectively raised $863,000 for the organization.
German, who raised more than anyone ever has on Long Island, pulled together a team of 75 people, mostly women, who helped him organize events and solicit donations. In total, more than 5,000 people contributed to German’s team with donations ranging from $5 to $55,000.
“Nobody said no,” German said. “I am a machine and found very special, passionate, amazing, like-minded people to help.”
Two pediatric cancer patients or survivors participate in the society’s Man of the Year campaign as Boy and Girl of the Year honorees. Jesse Pallas, age 12, of Miller Place and Morgan Sim, age 5, of Port Washington served as inspiration for German and his team.
“When I met Asaf in person for the first time, he shook my hand and said I’m going to win this thing. Who would have known that just 10 weeks later he would raise $470,000,” said RuRu Sim, Morgan’s mother. “It was almost unbelievable and he turned my skepticism into pure admiration. Asaf poured his heart and soul into the Man of the Year campaign and he helped us take a huge step closer to finding a cure for cancer. The cancer community is so blessed to have found such a dedicated and wonderful man!”
Prior to the fundraising campaign, German, a real estate attorney, knew nothing about fundraising or blood cancer diseases. He’s become passionate about the cause.
“It’s been the second most rewarding experience of my life after having children,” German said.
Nationally, the society raised $52 million through the Man of the Year campaigns. German ranked eighth nationally in total funds raised.
German thanks Mary Jo White, who had previously pulled together a Woman of the Year campaign for the society. He said she shared fundraising suggestions with him. He’s become close with White and her husband through the society’s fundraising mission. So close, he said he spent Christmas with them.
“People keep telling me ‘Do you realize the magnitude of what you just did,’” said German. “I can’t stop here. I’m a machine.”
He’s recruiting now for next year’s ambassador.
German’s two children, with the help of a committee at Accompsett Elementary and Middle Schools, where they’re students, raised $500 for the cause at Ralph’s Italian Ices on Maple Avenue in Smithtown.
“It’s not all about the money,” German said. “It’s about raising awareness and saving people’s lives.”