The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's (LLS) second annual Students of the Year campaign exceeded all expectations, with 21 Candidate Teams, comprised of 36 extraordinary high school students, raising over $192,000 to help find cancer cures. Winners of the seven-week competition were announced at the Grand Finale Gala on Saturday, February 24, 2018 at the Corinthian Grand Ballroom in San Jose, CA. The gala celebrated the accomplishments of local young philanthropists committed to cancer cures and LLS's supporters.
Team Cut Out Cancer, led by Arnav Verma and Anoushka Dave of University Preparatory Academy, raised over $25,000and were named the 2018 Students of the Year and received a $1,000 college scholarship. Though the competition has concluded, the team is still eager to raise $50,000 in order to tie their name to an LLS Research Portfolio. The portfolios include a variety of projects that focus on specific blood cancer research, so candidates may choose one that is meaningful to them.
"We're very proud to have raised so much for an important cause in such a short period of time. We still are pushing ourselves to reach our goal of $50,000 because we know every dollar helps blood cancer patients," said Arnav Vermaand Anoushka Dave of Team Cut Out Cancer "After we researched stories of those affected and learnt about the life-changing consequences of leukemia and lymphoma, we decided that we would make a change. Our passion for helping LLS' mission to fight against cancer motivated us to put our best into this campaign. We are happy to help LLS in creating a world without blood cancer."
Participants in fundraising campaigns, like Students of the Year, are helping LLS make an impact on the lives of cancer patients, not someday, but today. LLS is leading the charge in exploring new paths to cures and treatments, with almost 300 cutting-edge research projects underway, many in the promising new areas of immunotherapy and personalized medicine. In addition to finding blood cancer cures, many of the treatments LLS has helped fund are now helping patients with other cancers and chronic diseases.
Team CUREblood, led by Meghana Chintala, Amy Kumar and Tanvir Sandhu of University Preparatory Academy were named First Runner-Up. Second Runner-Up was Team "Wheel" Find a Cure, led by Emilie Erickson of Scotts Valley High School. Emilie also received the Shooting Star Award for being the first Candidate to raise over $10,000.
"Every young, fearless student who participated in this campaign is an inspiration and a role model to future generations. They embody the idea that anyone can make a difference with hard work and dedication," said Pooja Klebig, Sr. Manager of Special Events of LLS's Silicon Valley & Monterey Bay Area Chapter. "What the candidates were able to achieve in seven weeks is truly amazing, and will have a tremendous impact on the lives of blood cancer patients and their families."
The black-tie gala was hosted by Taylor Amarante, In-Stadium Show Host of the San Jose Earthquakes. Speakers included cancer survivor, Ethan Pope, age 10, who is in remission from Very High Risk Acute Lymphomblastic Leukemia, Sienna Pope, age 8, who was a 100% match to be Ethan's bone marrow donor, and Kate Berardo, Head of Leadership Development at Facebook, who illustrated the importance of the dollars raised for LLS in correspondence to leadership qualities in the workforce.
Corporate Sponsors included Argyle Data, Lexus of Stevens Creeks, Specialty Solid Waste & Recycling, RFI Enterprises, and NetApp. Additional LLS supporters included DJ Nabs, Alan Cash Video, Jessica Williams Photography, Anchor Photography and TapSnap.
LLS Silicon Valley & Monterey Bay Area Chapter recognized and celebrated candidates for their commitment to LLS through "Honor Roll" Awards for Mission, Volunteerism, and Community Involvement. Nicole Gou of St. Francis High School and Zainab Nasir of Lynbrook High School received the Volunteerism Award; Abigail Shamelashvili, Elizabeth White and Jacqueline Beaufore of Homestead High School received the Mission Award; and Christina Vo of Silver Creek High School received the Community Involvement Award. Christina also received the Future Leader Award and a $500college scholarship for demonstrating strong leadership skills by strategically creating and implementing a successful campaign. Argyle Data was also awarded the 2018 Community Corporate Philanthropy Award.