By Mark Ambrogi
As a member of Liz Childers’ team to raise money for a Leukemia and Lymphoma Society fundraiser, Carmel resident Bill McGee wanted to make a splash.
McGee went on a search to find a special puppy breed for the silent auction. McGee hit pay dirt when he found Connie Deason, a Westfield breeder of English cream golden retrievers. She agreed to donate a puppy from her February litter, which she sells for $4,000 apiece, including training. It was a perfect fit because the dogs have half the risk of cancer that affects American golden retrievers and because Deason and her husband just started a dog food company.
Shortly after committing to donate the puppy, Deason was contacted by conservative political commentator Sean Hannity, who has a Fox TV show and national radio show. One of his Bernese mountain dogs had died and after researching he decided he wanted this breed. Deason informed him the litter was gone except for the female she had agreed to donate.
At the May 14 LLS fundraiser, it was announced that Hannity received the dog, whom he named Marley, after making a $20,000 donation to LLS. The goal was to get $7,000 for the dog at the auction.
“He was thrilled to make a donation to LLS,” McGee said. “He knows all the figures, and he knows because of this money, people can live significantly longer because of all the research that has been done.”
While Hannity was very generous, McGee said the real hero is Deason.
“Connie is truly a saint. She has gone way above and beyond to help LLS,” McGee said.
Childers, a former Carmel resident who now lives in Zionsville, agreed, describing Deason as “like the most generous person on the planet.”
Deason had several calls from Hannity while her family was on vacation. Finally, she returned his call.
“I had no idea who Sean was,” Deason said. “I told him that if he donated that money to LLS and that would help so many in the fight (against cancer). One of our workers’ little girls has leukemia and she is remission.”
Hannity wanted to secure the puppy before the auction.
“Through a series of conversations, I threw the $20,000 figure out and he basically told me OK,” Deason said. “I get daily updates from him on how much he loves this puppy.”