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UFCW Golf Tournament Rallies Community to Fight Cancer

Posted by lynnesmith in The LLS Blog, 29 August 2014 · 136 views
Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, LLS and 5 more...

Leukemia took the life of Joe Pretti but the annual golf tournament held in his memory is funding hundreds of thousands of dollars in research to make sure others benefit from medical advances he didn’t have.

The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 655, which represents grocery and other retail workers in St. Louis and eastern Missouri, comes together every year for a fundraising drive to honor the former union representative.

What started 20 years ago as a miniature golf contest in a hotel is now the Joe Pretti Memorial Golf Classic in Pevely that attracts about 140 golfers. Almost $50,000 was raised last year and the hope is that the Sept. 8 event will top that.

No one is happier to see the growth than Pretti's wife Joan.

"When Joe was diagnosed, we weren’t lucky enough to have all the resources there are today," she said. When he learned in the late 1980s that he had chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), they traveled to the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Texas for advanced treatment and found a donor for a bone marrow transplant but it was too late. He died within a year at the age of 55.

She hopes that the money raised will further advance research and make such diseases more treatable for those diagnosed today. "Maybe there will come a day when there can be a pill and after five months, you could be cured," she said.

As a union business agent, Pretti helped negotiate contracts and was a "classy, caring and compassionate" individual who was well respected on all sides, said Dave Cook president of Local 655.

He noted that the tournament originally took off because of its association with Pretti but recently it’s grown because of the strides LLS has made in helping find cures.

"People want to participate in something successful," Cook said.

The Joe Pretti Memorial Golf Classic is just one of hundreds of fundraising events that UFCW members participate in on behalf of LLS throughout the year. The UFCW is one of LLS's top contributors, raising more than $60 million since 1983 to help find cures and ensure access to treatment for all blood cancer patients. In FY '14 alone, the union members raised $1.9 million for LLS in the United States, and more than $2.6 million in Canada.
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