Besides both of their initials being LL, Larry Lacerte and Luke Laufenberg may not seem to have a lot in common. Larry is in his 60s, has been married for more than 30 years to Joyce Lacerte and has seven children plus grandchildren. His business success has allowed him to become a generous and compassionate philanthropist.
On the other hand, Luke Laufenberg is not yet 21. While he is the son of former Dallas Cowboy/sports commentator Babe Laufenberg, Luke has been making a name for himself on the football field. At Texas A&M the 6’4” Luke played tight end.
So, what do a grandfather business executive and a strapping collegiate have in common besides their initials? They have both made the journey in meeting a similar goal — surviving leukemia.
For Luke, it was a case of his original diagnosis of the flu last December turning out to be Burkitt Leukemia. The day after Christmas, Luke got the bad news that it had affected 95% of his bone marrow. According to Brian Perroni, Babe cried for two straight weeks after learning of the news. But Luke charged right ahead, undergoing chemotherapy immediately. In May, Luke was declared cancer-free.
As for Larry, he faced down Acute Myelogenous Leukemia twice. It started eight years ago, when he and Joyce were on a cruise. They got off the ship in South Carolina a day early because Larry wasn’t feeling well. In a hospital ER, they discovered the supposed “leg infection” was in reality leukemia, and it was looking very bleak. Within days, he was airlifted to UT Southwestern University Hospital-Zale Lipshy for two reasons: 1) he wanted to be close to his home base and 2) he knew where the best medical experts were.
Thanks to a bone marrow transplant, he recovered, but then relapsed. Every inch of the way, Joyce was his steadfast advocate. Thanks to ongoing developments, those relapses have been overcome. But he admitted that he hadn’t done it alone — “I didn’t beat cancer; [the hospital] and the prayers of my friends and family saved my life.”
On Thursday, February 7, the St. Valentine’s Day Fashion Show and Luncheon in NorthPark’s CenterPark will honor these amazing men when Larry along with Joyce receives the Lynda Adleta Heart of Gold Award and Luke is presented with the Tom Landry Character Award.
If you expect the event to be teary-eyed, forget it. This luncheon will be a celebration for the advancements that have been made saving lives like Larry’s and Luke’s, thanks to funds raised.
* Photo provided by Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of North Texas