Michelle Steed, executive director of the Tri-State Southern Ohio chapter of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, loves talking about the work her organization does.

“I think as a nonprofit, if you’re not talking about outcomes, it’s probably because you’re not effective,” she says. “That’s how people should judge charities: How you are making a difference.”

And the Tri-State LLS has lots to talk about this year. The LLS’s mission is to find cures for blood cancers and to improve the quality of life for patients and their families. Covering Southern Ohio, Northern Kentucky and Southeast Indiana, the Tri-State LLS serves 26 counties in the area. And this year, the nonprofit health organization has found success on every front that it fights these diseases.

“When you think about how we fulfill our mission, it’s through research. We’re looking for cures, better treatments, new protocols—all those things—to get people well,” say Steed. “We’re funding about $2.9 million of research right here in Cincinnati, which is exciting and speaks … to the level of research being done in Cincinnati,” says Steed. The organization is currently funding research at Cincinnati Children’s, UC Health and Hoxworth Blood Center.

What’s exciting for Steed is seeing the results of funding come to fruition. For example, Ibrutinib—a new treatment for patients with previously treated chronic lymphocytic leukemia—was developed because of the LLS-supported research of John C. Byrd of the Ohio State University.

“Our donors own this,” Steed says. “The folks who have been supporting us for the last 20 years made that happen. … I also think that as we move forward, the donors who are making a difference today—their impact is going to be far-reaching because we’re being smart in the way that we’re investing.”

The LLS is also bettering the lives of patients and their families through education and support services.

“We do a fantastic program called First Connection where we connect patients one-to-one for phone support. Someone newly diagnosed is going to be connected with someone with the exact same diagnosis that’s a little bit further out,” says Steed.

Another program is the LLS’s co-pay program. “We have reimbursed patients almost half a million dollars in our chapter footprint in co-pay costs [last year].For some patients, that’s up to $10,000 a year,” she says.

In terms of education, Steed is particularly proud of the chapter’s free annual Blood Cancer Conference. Held April 5 this year, the conference is geared toward caregivers and patients. Oncologists, nurse practitioners, social workers and psychologists discuss the issues the attendees are most concerned about.

“What are the new clinical trials that might be available to them? Where is the future of research? Where is the future of treatment for their specific diagnosis? Patients are very hungry for that information, so we’re a resource for them,” says Steed.

None of this could be done, however, without the help of donors—individuals, corporations and foundations—and volunteers.

“We couldn’t do what we do without our volunteers. What their hard work has done has allowed us, in just this past year, to grow our net income about 27 percent,” says Steed.

Those who want to help can contact the Tri-State LLS for information about donating or volunteering on their committees, but an easy way is participating in the annual Light the Night Walk. Held September 23 in Mason this year, this annual fundraising raised $721,000 last year.

“We don’t receive federal funding. We don’t receive United Way funding. Every dollar that we spend on mission was given to us,” says Steed. “So it’s people giving to people.”