He has had a front row seat to cheer on the greatest rock stars of the last twenty years, but now, inspired by the triumph of his eight-year old niece over cancer, he is cheering on kids with blood cancers.
“I am running for ‘Man of the Year’ for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (known as LLS),” O’Malley says. “Basically, it's a number of individuals trying to raise the most money possible for LLS over a 10-week fundraising period, which started March 10 and ends May 19. Whoever raises the most money is Man of the Year.
“I'm doing this in honor of my eight-year-old niece Kate who is a cancer survivor, and spent two and a half grueling years fighting it only to fully recover in large part to the research the LLS has done.”
There are a number of personal reasons why O’Malley is throwing his fame behind this endeavor.
“When you throw in the fact that my father died of cancer and my family has been ravaged over generations by it, you can understand why this is so near and dear to me. I can't think of a single person I know who hasn't been affected by some form of cancer, whether personally or through someone they are close to,” he says.
O’Malley’s competitive juices are flowing to nab the honor, and he is putting out all the stops with 18-hour days and encouraging his high-watt friends to play along. He’s secured signed guitars from Jon Bon Jovi and John Mayer for raffles and other donations both big and small.
“The guys in Def Leppard, and Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart made fantastic donations,” he reports. “My friend Brad Richards from the Dallas Stars and (PGA golf pro) Justin Rose donated so generously right out of the gate.
“But my favorite donation was this kid from Denmark that found the site online and gave $10 out of his allowance without telling his parents. That’s just so amazing to me!”
While O’Malley is gunning for the Man of the Year Honor, he knows who the real winner will be.
“When all is said and done, after the 10 week fundraising period, it doesn't really matter who wins, as any dollar amount raised goes to an amazing cause,” he enthuses.
O’Malley has had a number of famous Irish American comedians helping his cause. He gathered Jim Bruer and Greg Fitzsimmons at Caroline’s on Broadway, and the Irish band Mr. North gave the door proceeds to the cause during their Ulysses show in town over the weekend.
O’Malley rattles off the sobering stats during our interview about blood cancers and the desperate need for research. Every four minutes someone is diagnosed, with more kids and young adults under 20 succumbing to leukemia than any other cancer, and 150 deaths a day being caused by a blood cancer.
He pauses for a moment when asked what he’s learned about himself as he took on this charitable contest.
“I’m just amazed by the human spirit and kindness of people,” he says. “It’s not just being touched by the donations, which are great, but it’s amazing to see how people persevere in the face of these odds. You have people surviving cancer themselves rolling up their sleeves and donating to find a cure for others that are sick, and it just reinforces your belief in mankind.”
To find out more about the cause and how you can donate, check out O’Malley’s page here.