CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A Charlotte woman is on a mission to set a national fundraising record for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS).
Jen Kipphut is a candidate for the non-profit’s ‘Woman of the Year’ title.
She is aiming to raise $891,806.01 in memory of her late husband Chris Kipphut, who died from a rare type of lymphoma in 2018.
Kipphut said the extra cent at the end of the amount would give her the record for the most money ever raised by a ‘Woman of the Year’ candidate.
Kipphut describes her late husband Chris as someone who was quick-witted with a sense of humor. She said he was calm, level-headed, easy to get along with, and was friends with everyone he met.
Most importantly though, Kipphut said Chris was a great dad. He was the picture of health to her in his 30s as he raced to keep up with their twin boys, Aiden and Riley, and ran marathons to stay active.
“In the 20-plus years that I was with him, I might have known him to go to the doctor a hand full of times,” Kipphut said, “like literally a hand full of times, and usually I would force him to do it.”
But after Chris came home from a trip in 2017 with a small insect-looking bite on his shin, he did go to the doctor, finding out he had a rare type of lymphoma called cutaneous T-cell lymphoma.
Kipphut said the prognosis for this type of cancer was good.
“Very few people die from it. It’s a cancer that you treat the symptoms,” Kipphut added. “There’s no cure, but you treat the symptoms and kind of get on with your life.”
However, two to three months after Chris’ initial diagnosis, he learned he didn’t just have a rare cancer, he had an even rarer mutation of a rare cancer called primary cutaneous gamma-delta T-cell lymphoma.
Kipphut said there are fewer than 50 cases of this particular type of cancer worldwide, and there’s no known treatment plan.
“That little mutation equated to a death sentence for him,” Kipphut said.
Chris went through treatment but ultimately passed away in November 2018, leaving behind his wife Jen, and their twin boys.
Shortly after Chris’ death, Jen got involved with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and started raising funds for blood cancer research as a way to give meaning to Chris’ death and to keep his memory alive for their boys.
“I can’t change Chris’ outcome, right? Like I can’t do anything to change what’s happened to him, but maybe I can use our story to change what’s happening to other people or what could happen for other people,” Kipphut said.
Prior to becoming a candidate for LLS’ ‘Woman of the Year,’ Jen and Team Kipphut had raised more than $100,000.
Now, her goal is even higher as she aims to break a national record.
“The title ‘Woman of the Year,’ the dollar amount, none of that actually really matters,” Kipphut said, “what matters to me is changing the outcome for people who are facing this right now. That’s what matters.”
Even if she falls short of her goal, Kipphut said she hopes the money raised by Team Kipphut will help fund research to find a cure—doing it all in Chris’ memory.
If you would like to help Kipphut reach her goal, click here to view her fundraising page through LLS.