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Anything for the Cause

Gifford's initial MOY efforts included correspondence to 100 Lions' Clubs, 110 American Legions, Oprah Winfrey, Ellen Degeneres and a dozen NASCAR associations. The Race for a Cure Foundation sent him a $250 contribution, Gifford said.

"All of these efforts are getting the word about the Society out to the counties in this region," Gifford said. "Power comes in numbers. I would rather get $1 from 100 people than $100 from one person, and I get to meet 99 more people."

Gifford said he has always had a problem asking for help, and he said he certainly could never ask people for money.

End justifies the means

Gifford's hope is to educate people about leukemia and lymphoma, as well as to raise money for research that will hopefully lead to a cure, he said.

"One dollar equals one vote," Gifford said. "So looks and

personality mean nothing."

In essence, he or she who gets the most money, wins.

"I want to raise awareness and get the word out about the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society mission," Gifford said. "I want to reach as many people as I can for the cause. They need a vehicle to drive that cause home, and I am that vehicle."

Gifford said his campaign has allowed him to meet people he never would have otherwise.

"I find I have friends I never knew existed," Gifford said. "You also find out later you quietly inspire others without realizing it."

Everyone can't donate, Gifford said, and with so many good causes out there, it makes it difficult for people to pick and choose.

"No amount of money is too small, and people can't be embarrassed just to say, 'Thank you for what you are doing,' because that sometimes means even more," Gifford said.

There are five woman of the year and four man of the year candidates in the Central New York region, which encompasses 19 counties, Gifford said. So far, he has raised more than $7,000, and the clock is ticking on his being able to make his $30,000 goal.

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