By Emily Ackerman
Working with LLS has been an incredible experience that helped me realize my power for good.
In late 2017 to early 2018, my brother Will (class of 2018) was nominated to be a student of the year for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) and I was his team manager. The next year (2018-2019) I was nominated by my brother to be a student of the year on my own. My entire family was unaware of this foundation and additionally what a student of the year was. With some time and many questions asked, we found out that The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is especially unique because it is devoted to curing blood cancers – which includes leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease, and myeloma. In 2017, LLS funded 15 out of 18 FDA approved treatments for blood cancers nationwide and I was ecstatic to be included in this program. Many people are also surprised to find out that the treatments funded by LLS can be used to combat various types of cancer, not exclusively blood cancers. The Students of The Year campaign is a fundraising competition between high schoolers all across Oregon and Washington. I was competing against 10 other teams and over 100 other participants. Each team had a student of the year nominee and selected teammates.
My experience with LLS was an exceptionally positive impact on my life as a community member and as a student. I was in a situation that I have never been in before; I needed to recruit team members, organize fundraising opportunities, approach companies about corporate partnerships, and hardest of all, I had to learn how to ask people for money. I struggled with asking for donations because although I knew how important this cause is, I felt uncomfortable performing the task of requesting a donation large in size.
The most influential learning experience that I had was when I went to Ardon Health and had a meeting with a few managers of the department that allocates funds. I went and presented a 20-page slideshow explaining LLS and the Student of The Year program. I ended up getting a $500 donation. Although it was not the largest donation to my fundraiser, I felt as though each donation was not about the amount but the thought behind it. I felt like I learned something through the whole process of making the slide show, presenting it to the board members, and negotiating the size of the donation.
By the end of the tiring 7-week fundraiser, my team raised around $23,000! I was incredibly proud of my teammates and myself. With 49 days of fundraising, I raised around $465 per day, all of which went straight to LLS, and as of right now, the money is being put into action by helping researchers, patients, and treatments. Although I didn’t win the title of Student of The Year, I feel that I made an impact, no matter how small, supporting the fight against cancer and I am excited for this upcoming year to help mentor a new team.