Working on Capitol Hill forces staffers to be passionate about their work, to go the distance in many figurative ways, often for their bosses.
One particular staffer has gone the distance off the Hill as well, for a cause he believes in — by literally running, biking and swimming for it.
James Brandell, chief of staff for Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., did just that. Shortly after his mother, Mary Ellen Brandell, was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia in 2008, Brandell got involved with The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. The organization funds research to find cures and works to ensure access to treatments for all blood cancer patients.
Brandell began raising money through Team in Training in 2009 to help find a cure for the disease his mother was fighting. In September 2010, she lost her battle with cancer, but her son continued his participation in her honor.
To date, Brandell has completed three triathlons, one century ride and one marathon. His latest was an Olympic-length triathlon in March consisting of a 1.5 km swim, 40 km bike race and a 10 km run. He set out to raise $30,000 and surpassed that goal by $20,130.
On Tuesday, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society honored Brandell at a soire with the naming of a research grant award that Brandell will name after his mother.
“It is truly an honor to support the work of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, and naming a research grant is a wonderful tribute to my mother’s memory,” Brandell said after accepting the award, according to a statement from the society.
Brandell’s work must strike a chord with his boss as well. Camp was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins large B-cell lymphoma about a year ago. He received a clean bill of health in December.
LLS National Capital Deputy Director Beth Gorman, said in a statement that Brandell’s dedication and support of LLS’s mission made a difference: “We at LLS are incredibly thankful to Jim. . . . He has engaged his colleagues and friends in his fundraising efforts, and has truly made a difference in the lives of blood cancer patients and their families. It is because of volunteers like Jim that LLS is able to fund life-saving research leading to cures not someday, but today.”
Brandell has raised $110,000 so far towards the LLS mission. He plans to keep training and raising money in his mother’s memory.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.