Merced County Times Newspaper
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Firefighter Van Hagen is candidate for ‘Man of the Year’ title

Matthew Van Hagen
Matthew Van Hagen

The Central Valley Region Chapter of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) is pleased to announce that Matthew Van Hagen of Merced has been nominated as a candidate for LLS’s 2021 Man & Woman of the Year Campaign.

Candidates across the Central Valley will form powerful fundraising teams and compete in honor of two local children who are blood cancer survivors to raise the most funds for blood cancer research.

Van Hagen, a Merced Fire Department Captain, is one of an elite group of community leaders who will compete for the titles of LLS’s Man & Woman of the Year.

Van Hagen got involved with LLS because, as a first responder, he sees how fast someone’s life can change on a dime. He knows how important it is to cherish one another, our families, and our health and to never take life for granted. In these few weeks, Van Hagen and his team have raised over $15,000 of his $50,000 goal. If he is able to achieve this goal, they will be able to link a research grant in honor of Nolan Pedretti. Nolan is a four year old boy from El Nido that was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML), a form of blood cancer that affects the bone marrow.

As a candidate, Van Hagen will raise funds for a world without blood cancers through May 7, 2021 with multiple fundraisers. The man and woman candidates who raise the most funds during the 10-week campaign will be awarded the titles Fresno Man & Woman of the Year at a virtual Grand Finale on May 7. The local winners are then entered into the competition for National Man & Woman of the Year titles.


Help the Cause:

Van Hagen’s team is selling To-Go Pulled Pork meal dinner tickets from the famous Uncle Buck’s Catering. The event will be held on April 27, pickup is between 4:30 p.m and 6:30 p.m. at the Italo-American Lodge, 1351 W. 18th Street, Merced.

Each meal dinner ticket is $12.00 and tickets must be purchased prior to the event date. No tickets will be sold at the door. Tickets can be purchased directly from Matt Van Hagen (209) 769-1777 or through

There are other ways you can support Van Hagen in his quest for a world without blood cancers. Visit Van Hagen’s fundraising website and learn how you can become engaged and donate to LLS.

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