PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — More than a half-dozen local students just embarked on a 7-week campaign to raise tens of thousands of dollars — and they’re all vying to be the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Student of the Year.
“It’s an amazing thing for these children to be involved in helping fund-raise for an incredible cause, which is to find new cures for blood cancers,” said Dr. John Godwin of the Providence Cancer Center.
To kick off the Student of the Year competition, all of the candidates were invited to learn more about the research the campaign helps to fund.
“Here at Providence, we have an incredible amount of research into blood cancers,” said Godwin.
Students had an opportunity to meet with leading oncologist, Dr. Godwin, and tour the research lab at the Providence Cancer Center.
“I think it sort of gives them an insight and excitement of what research can do to fight cancer,” said Godwin.
“Just exploring this lab has been super amazing,” said Alexis Stohler, Student of the Year candidate. “And just getting to know what these doctors do each day, kind of behind the scenes and not necessarily just with the patients—they just do so much work to help everyone.”
Now they’ll take what they’ve learned to their communities to raise money to support more research. It’s a mission they’re all passionate about.
“I have always had a love for helping people and I want to work with others, try to just make their lives better in any way,” said Stohler.
“I just fell in love with making a difference in people’s lives,” said candidate Penelope Olheiser.
“I just love being around kids, so seeing what I can do to help them is just amazing,” said Taelyn Haney, another candidate.
But for some of these students, the campaign is personal.
“In 2014, I was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia,” said Anna Seely. “And I am five years cancer-free since December.”
Seely hopes her story will inspire others to give.
“I really want to give back to everyone who helped me along my journey, including nurses and doctors, and then just make a difference for patients fighting blood cancers,” said Seely.
For people like Kaile Reece, it’s a matter of carrying on family tradition. After her step-mom Lindsay was diagnosed with cancer, Lindsay raised more than $40,000 to become the 2019 LLS Team Member of the Year.
“I know with everything my family went through, if it wasn’t for the people who were helping us that we wouldn’t be where we are today,” said Kaile Reece.
Now the battle begins to see who will come out on top.
“I really would like to wish them all good luck in their endeavor, but I think every one of them is going to be a winner,” said Godwin. “No one loses when you’re trying your best to find these resources to fight leukemia, lymphoma and all the blood cancers.”
Last year the Student of the Year Campaign raised more than $183,000.
LLS helped advance 34 of the 39 blood cancer treatment options approved by the FDA in 2017 and 2018. In addition to research, LLS provides financial support for patients, including covering prescription costs, travel assistance, urgent needs, and more.
Learn more about the program here: Leukemia and Lymphoma’s Student of the Year
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