From January through March, the Harriton High School chapter of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society raised $38,000 as part of the annual Students of the Year Campaign, surpassing their goal of $30,000.
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS), the world’s largest voluntary health agency dedicated to blood cancer, sponsors the seven-week, nationwide fundraising campaign. High school teams from across the country compete to see who can raise the most money for research into blood cancers like leukemia and lymphoma. Harriton’s LLS team celebrated their success on March 9th with other high school groups from the area at a gala hosted at the Philadelphia Marriott West.
This year, the ten members of Harriton’s LLS team participated in a number of community-based fundraisers. The team hosted a dinner at California Pizza Kitchen and sold everything from bundt cakes to t-shirts designed by Harriton senior Evan Martin. The Harriton LLS team’s greatest fundraising success story, however, was the 230 donations they received in response to 450 personalized emails.
Ayla Bleznak, captain of Harriton’s LLS fundraising team, invited Duncan Glew to join her as a co-captain this year because of his history of success in fundraising. A member of LLS since seventh grade, Glew was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in November 2012 when he was living in Seattle. The diagnosis brought him to the East Coast. “We moved here because there is really great medical care in Philly. And that set [off] this whole chain of events in Philly”, said Duncan.
Glew’s work with blood cancer research extends much further than each winter’s Students of the Year campaign. Three years ago, Glew expanded Big Climb, a fundraiser that originated in Seattle and raises millions of dollars every year, to Philadelphia. Big Climb participants climb 47 floors (1088 steps) to the top of the Cira Centre South building to support new cures for cancer.
Glew said, “When I moved here there were only three [Big Climbs in the country] including Seattle. So I came up with the idea to start a new one in Philly.” Glew plans to work with LLS to expand Big Climb internationally in the coming years.
At the gala, Georgie Crockett and her team from Agnes Irwin School were honored for raising $41,000 for the cause. Georgie wrote letters to friends and family asking for donations and hosted fundraising events. “I worked about five hours a week and mostly on weekends [for the cause].” 11 other teams joined Agnes Irwin that night in celebrating the $367,000 they raised collectively over the course of the last seven weeks.
Salma Mami, a member of Harriton’s LLS,had only positive things to say about the Students of the Year campaign, despite Harriton’s loss to a team from Agnes Irwin that raised nearly $60,000.. “I think over the seven weeks I learned a lot about communication, organization, and planning, all of which will help me in future endeavors. t was fun and rewarding, and that’s what counts.”
According to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s homepage, the organization has operated for 70 years and invested more than $1.2 billion in cancer research during that time.
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