BRANDON PHILLIPS

Brandon Phillips is a professional polo player. During his career, Phillips has won many of the sport’s most prestigious tournaments. However, winning these tournaments is not the biggest victory he has achieved…surviving stage 4 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is.

Everything seemed to be falling into place for the young Phillips until the day he woke up with severe swelling and aching pain in his left leg. Twenty-four hours later, he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and given a prognosis of six weeks to live. Phillips was just 14 years old.

Phillips endured five grueling months of intensive chemotherapy sessions yet never lost his spirit nor accepted death as an option. He beat the odds and went into remission. 

Brandon vowed to dedicate his life to pursuing what he loved most…polo.  Later, he would fuse his passion for polo with his desire to help families facing the dreadful challenge of surviving childhood cancers. 

 

PJ RIZVI

PJ Rizvi has been involved with Polo for Life since the beginning.  As Event Co-chair for the past five years, PJ has been instrumental in producing PFL’s flagship fundraising event, Polo for a Purpose. 

PJ tirelessly contributes to the event resulting in exponential growth year after year.  Having lost her sister, Penny, to leukemia, PJ is motivated to help find a cure for blood cancers as well as help families facing the exact same challenge her family experienced. 

“All the money in the world could not save my sister, but maybe the money we raise at this event might prevent another family from the tragedy and heartache we suffered”, said Rizvi. 

 

 

 

 

RITA A. REIK, MD

Dr. Reik is the Chief Medical Officer for America’s Blood Centers (ABC), the national association which represents U.S. blood centers which collect about 60% of the national blood supply.  America’s Blood Centers has played a critical role in the current coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic, as it worked closely with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Department of Defense (DOD) and the Biologics Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to implement the national COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma (CPP) program that has provided hundreds of thousands of therapeutic units of CCP to COVID- 19 victims.   In her role at ABC, Dr. Reik also interacts routinely with international blood bankers to address emerging new global threats to the safety of the blood supply and maintain worldwide standards for transfusion safety. Dr. Reik also serves as Chief Medical Office for OneBlood, Inc., one of the three largest blood centers in the US, which serves Florida, Georgia, Alabama, North and South Carolina.  In that role she oversees OneBlood’s team of board-certified Transfusion Medicine physicians, and the operational areas of

Therapeutic Apheresis, Cellular Therapy, Education and Research. She is board-certified in Anatomic and Clinical Pathology, as well as Blood Banking/Transfusion Medicine, and Forensic Pathology. Dr. Reik’s past experience includes serving as Senior Medical Officer for the American Red Cross (ARC) Biomedical Services at its National Headquarters in Washington, DC. She was also ARC’s Director of National Operations for the Center for Cell Therapy and Chief Medical Officer of the Pacific Northwest Region. In addition, Dr. Reik served as Vice-Chair of the Department of Pathology at Memorial Regional Medical Center in Fort Lauderdale Florida and was Director of Transfusion Medicine Services for the system’s six hospitals. She is a graduate of the University of Miami School of Medicine, and a member of the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society. She received her post-graduate training at University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Center. Her areas of special interest include Regenerative Medicine and Cellular Therapy, and new emerging diseases and their impact on the blood supply. She is a regional Principal Investigator for the NIH/NHLBI Transfusion-Transmissible Infections Monitoring System and served on task forces for Zika Virus.  She was involved at the Senior Leadership level with the strategic merger and integration of three large community blood centers in Florida in 2012.

She serves on multiple national and international committees in the field of transfusion medicine and had authored research papers on new emerging diseases and their significance to the blood supply, including the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic.

On a personal note, she is an avid animal lover and spends her free time with her husband of 46 years, caring for their rescued cats, dogs, and horses, at their 501(c)3 foundation, Epona’s Path, Inc. She is also active in advocating for animal welfare, equine protection against slaughter, public health and food safety on a national and global scale and serves on the Board of Directors of Polo for Life, a charitable foundation for families of children with cancer and hematologic disorders.

 

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