Q&A: Ed Offterdinger
Photo: SRA International's Dave Keffer and Leukemia Ball's Ed Offterdinger
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s annual Leukemia Ball, presented by PhRMA, has raised $52M for blood cancer research since the late ‘80s, with the last four years raising nearly $12M. We had a chance to chat with Leukemia Ball senior co-chair Ed Offterdinger (whose day job is executive managing partner of Baker Tilly) about what makes the annual event one of the biggest in DC.
Bisnow: What’s your personal connection to the LLS mission?
Ed: I lost a close friend (Wayne) when I was 13. I had no experience with the disease or death, so it really stands out in my mind. Wayne was gone six to eight months after his diagnosis. I have so many friends whose children and grandchildren have leukemia and they’re all still alive. It was a death sentence 40 years ago and now it’s not. The survival rates for blood cancers are off the charts compared to 15 years ago. It’s because of the drugs funded by money raised at the Leukemia Ball.
Bisnow: The Leukemia Ball is one of the biggest non-political fundraisers in DC. How has it become so successful?
Ed: It’s not enough to have a great cause. You also have to throw a great party. We always have some high-profile comics and entertainment—this year it's Kathleen Madigan and Barenaked Ladies. It also starts with our amazing executive committee of 50 people who are willing to spend the time to raise a certain level of money.
Bisnow: This year you’re trying to engage younger people. How?
Ed: We’re offering a less expensive ticket that gets you in at 9pm for dessert, wine, beer and to see the entertainment. The objective is to raise money and then in 20 years, have this group of young people groomed to be the next executive committee members.