North Providence’s Laboissonniere is LLS Man of the Year

North Providence’s Laboissonniere is LLS Man of the Year

NORTH PROVIDENCE – The task of outraising all other contestants in the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s 2020 Man and Woman of the Year competition grew exponentially more difficult when the pandemic hit a month into it, in March.

Richard Laboissonniere, a North Providence resident and eventual winner of the Man of the Year honors, said the cancellation of numerous fundraising events, including bingo, comedy and battles of the bands, threw a huge wrinkle into his plans to raise money following the nomination of teams in February, but he was still able to raise nearly $6,000 toward the effort.

Laboissonniere, an electrician by trade, was ecstatic to learn of his win two weeks ago, saying it meant so much to him to be able to represent the organization.

“This is a great organization, it’s fantastic,” he said.

His parents, Brenda and Richard, also of North Providence, said they were so proud of their son. Brenda said the cause has been very personal to her son since he became a bone marrow donor following the death of a young person in the family’s church, St. Thomas in Providence. Laboissonniere would later learn that his marrow donation saved the life of a girl in Arkansas. He was able to learn the identity of that girl, who graduated this year, and they now stay in touch on social media.

Everyone involved in this year’s fundraising efforts worked very hard, said Brenda.

The LLS Man and Woman of the Year awards go to the man and woman who raise the most money for the organization, with money going toward cancer research. The LLS has contributed some $1.3 billion toward cancer research since 1949.

This year’s LLS Woman of the Year winner is Elizabeth DeLaitsch.

With events canceled, Laboissionniere said he ended up doing a lot of cold calling seeking donations from individuals and businesses. He also ran fundraisers on social media. The amount he raised wasn’t nearly what he would have liked to see, nor was the nearly $150,000 raised by Rhode Island nominees as a group, he said.

Parents of cancer patients on a June 20 Zoom announcement event thanked participants for raising money under incredibly difficult circumstances.

Laboissionniere noted that nearly every organization is struggling to raise money during the pandemic, but the need is just as great as ever. People are still being diagnosed and they’re still dying, he said, and any amount donated makes a difference. Make a donation to the LLS at donate.lls.org .