Local teen finds hope through St. Jude Leadership Society

Human Interest

One local teen became involved -- even as he faces his own health struggles

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — KOIN 6 News is a proud community partner with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, which helps kids with rare cancers across the U.S. and where families never receive a bill.

That includes many families in Oregon and Washington. Now, teenagers have the chance to get involved in the hospital’s Leadership Society. One local teen became involved — even as he faces his own health struggles.

Nathan Ehline of Ridgefield has cerebral palsy. Two years ago, he got the chance to feel what it was like to be a rockstar for one night at the Crystal Ballroom. After a bad reaction to a pediatric drug, Make-A-Wish granted his wish to play the drums on stage with his childhood friend Daniel Seavy — who is part of the popular boy band Why Don’t We.

Nathan gained quite a large Instagram following after his on-stage appearance.

“I kind of got famous off of their whole band,” said Nathan.

Nathan is still playing his music, but he’s also busy with another cause: he’s part of the St. Jude Leadership Society in the Portland Metro area. He even got to visit the hospital in Memphis in 2019, using his Instagram fame to raise money for the non-profit.

“I got into DM’s and people said ‘I’ll help you raise the money,'” said Nathan. “They said ‘I’ll ask my parents’ or ‘I’ll get some money to help.'”

The teens in the Leadership Society attend several sessions a year involving big companies. St. Jude also works with the teens on their fundraising goals.

Link to apply to the St. Jude Leadership Society

“They are young but they each have a talent,” said DeeAnna Janku of St. Jude. “They each have a network of people and we teach them how to develop that talent, how to use that network and put it toward something like St. Jude.”

While he’s gaining life skills to benefit a non-profit that helps children with rare cancers that may be different from Nathan’s own health struggles — it’s something he feels passionate about.

“His heart is amazing,” said Nathan’s dad, Brian. “To get his eyes off his own situation and use the platform he’s been given — yeah, I’m in a wheelchair and a lot of things are difficult to me but there are other people who have challenges harder than mine.”

Being a part of something like this has changed Nathan’s outlook for the better.

“It definitely changed my perspective on the whole cancer world,” said Nathan. “I see no frowny faces in that hospital, everyone is so cheerful and joyful.”

Those interested have until January 15 to apply, which can be done here. Keep in mind that St. Jude can only accept a few from each high school.

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