Growing up in his hometown of Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia, Joe DiPenta dreamed of pursuing a career in the NHL. He not only achieved his dream, he excelled at it. During his 11 years as a professional hockey player, Joe earned a reputation as a stay-at-home defenseman, culminating as a member of the 2007 Stanley Cup Champion Anaheim Ducks. As a result, he joined a select group of players who have won both the Stanley Cup and the Calder Cup – the American Hockey League (AHL) championship trophy.
Now retired from professional hockey, Joe is continuing his fight, this time to help cure blood cancer. He recently joined LLS as the executive director of the Halifax chapter where he is responsible for managing all fundraising and overseeing LLS’s primary campaigns -- Light The Night and Team In Training.
Joe says he has always had a passion for finding a cure for cancer from the loss of family and friends to the disease. His interest in cancer fundraising dates back to his time in Anaheim when he had a foundation called Shoot for the Cure. The foundation raised money for the Children’s Hospital of Orange County’s oncology unit. He saw the good being done for families and children affected by cancer through the foundation and he wanted to make a difference in the community where he grew up. That led him to LLS.
Joe was also inspired by the many NHL players who are affected by blood cancer: Mario Lemieux, Paul Henderson, Saku Koivu and Jason Blake, to name a few. At the Halifax Light The Night walk, Joe will be walking in memoriam for NHL player Shawn Burr who lost his two-year battle with leukemia in August at age 47. He left behind his wife and two daughters.
Joe says the biggest transition from the NHL to LLS is managing others and helping the campaigns raise as much money as they can. Ironically, being a part of LLS is more of a team approach than being a hockey player when all he had to do is worry about himself and his performance.
LLS is happy to have Joe fighting on our team to help find a cure for blood cancers.
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) is proud of our long history of supporting the work of Brian Druker, M.D., Director of OHSU Knight Cancer Institute, Oregon Health and Science University. Druker is a world-renowned researcher with a proven track record of success in revolutionizing the treatment of patients with chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML). Early on LLS saw the potential of Druker’s pioneering work, and invested at a time when others were skeptical of taking a risk on a drug with limited market size. LLS funded his early breakthrough studies proving the anti-leukemia activity of a novel enzyme inhibitor now known as Gleevec®, and later the clinical trials that led to the accelerated FDA approval of the drug that is now that is now saving countless lives of patients with CML and helping patients with other cancers as well. In recent years Druker has turned his attention to AML and other types of leukemia, and through our Specialized Center of Research program, LLS has continued to support his work.
LLS features Druker in this video, posted on the LLS.org video gallery, in which he talks about how the early funding from LLS helped him at a critical juncture in his research, when he was trying to translate a laboratory discovery to clinical application. Druker concludes by saying that when people ask him where they should donate their money his answer is simple: “The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is the best investment of your funds; LLS is making an impact and accelerating progress.”
The video can also be viewed on our YouTube Channel.
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society was founded in 1949 by Rudolph and Antoinette de Villiers, who had recently lost their 16 year old son to leukemia. Since then, LLS has been driven by the de Villiers nearly boundless belief that leukemia and other blood cancers could be cured. From its inception, LLS been helping to shape the ever-shifting paradigm of cancer research and drug discovery. More recently, we have been laser-focused on driving research in areas of unmet medical need, while helping to bridge the gap from academic discovery to drug development.
We launched our Therapy Acceleration Program (TAP) in 2007, as a strategic initiative to forge partnerships with academic research institutions, and with biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies, to speed the development of blood cancer therapies and bring help and hope to patients as quickly as possible.
To showcase TAP and its critical role in finding treatments and cures for blood cancers, we produced a series of films featuring a cast of key LLS research staff and executives. In a series of vignettes, we hear from the TAP team as they explain how LLS is helping companies and research institutions with novel compounds, biologics or diagnostic devices overcome bottlenecks and advance these projects through the drug development pipeline.
As always, our goal is to bring us closer to cures, today.
You can view the main TAP video here.