Five years ago, we told you about a venture capital auction wherein dozens of VCs donated their time toward a greater good — helping fund research at the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, one of the world’s largest voluntary health organizations dedicated to funding research and access to treatments for blood cancer patients. The auction was centered around then five-year-old Rhett Krawitt, a pink-cheeked, bright-spirited boy who’d been diagnosed with leukemia in 2010 and “fought a really hard battle,” recalls his father, Carl Krawitt, who works in the Bay Area for Tata, the enterprise information management consultancy.
“For three-and-a-half years, he was undergoing chemotherapy, and his doctors would say, ‘Here are the 20 complications you can have, though most kids have three or four.’ But Rhett had all 20 of them. He was between a rock and a hard place. I had to tell my daughter that her little brother was probably going to die.”
Rhett was still actively battling his blood disease back in 2013, when longtime VC David Lee — who himself fought Stage IV lymphoma when he was just 24 years old — helped organize what was then the annual “Venture Capital Master’s Lunch Series,” an auction program that benefits the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
Keith Rabois, Megan Quinn and Tim Draper were among many who donated their time, helping raise more than $200,000 for LLS in the process.
Today, thank goodness, Rhett is nearing his fifth year of remission, thanks largely to treatments funded in part by LLS, says his father. To show thanks for all of the organization’s support, and to help it continue on its mission, Rhett and Lee banded together again this year with founder Pete Quinzio of the drug testing service Notable Labs to sign up a host of new VCs who are donating their time. (Quinzio became involved after LLS approached him about supporting its fundraising efforts. When he reached out to Lee for a little moolah — Lee’s venture firm, Refactor Capital, is an investor in Notable — Lee told him about Rhett and the 2013 auction, and Quinzio thought it would be a great idea to involve both in a broader fundraising campaign.)
Lee and Rhett were brought together for the first time in years just last week, in fact. Asked afterward how he was feeling about the meeting, Lee said it was “amazing. Five years is a significant milestone for cancer patients; for some cancer patients, that is when you are effectively ‘cured.’” Rhett is “so mentally and emotionally tough,” continued Lee. “He looks and sounds like any other 10-year-old — loves playing with his friends, loves to be active. He and his parents are so courageous.”
You can read more from Lee about his own health scare and the importance of this auction to him here. If you’re interested in helping with the effort (and we hope you will!), you can head over here to bid on time with a long (and, we’re seeing in real time, growing) list of VCs, including: Lee himself, Emily Melton of DFJ, Hunter Walk and Satya Patel of Homebrew, Mark Suster and Kara Nortman of Upfront Ventures, Alex Rampell of Andreessen Horowitz, Paul Buchheit of Y Combinator, Kim-Mai Cutler of Initialized Capital, and Bill Trenchard of First Round Capital.
Photo: Rhett Krawitt in 2016 with former Vice President Joe Biden, who lost his son Beau to cancer in 2015.