GHS student makes an impact with LLS Student of the Year Campaign

Rachel McDonald, Feature Editor

The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society organizes a Student of the Year campaign where high school students are challenged to raise the most funds for LLS. Junior Naomi Weaver accepted the challenge and is working to save lives through her campaign.

Weaver is competing against other participants in Indianapolis within about seven weeks, and whichever student wins earns a scholarship for college and has the opportunity to earn letters of recommendation from people at LLS while also learning professional skills.

“My dad was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia when I was one year old. Throughout the years, my family has been involved in different activities and events that LLS has put on. My dad has been connected to some of LLS’s members, and back in October, one of the members reached out to him and asked if he knew any high schoolers who would be interested in participating in this campaign. My dad talked about it with me, which is when I decided this is something I really wanted to do,” Weaver said.

The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society makes a huge impact on countless cancer patients’ lives, and Weaver knows the value in supporting their organization because it has benefitted her own family.

“I think growing up and doing things with LLS has helped me to understand just how much of an impact LLS has. LLS essentially saved my dad’s life because of the donations from people that were put into research to develop the drug my dad now takes each morning that has kept him in remission for the past 16 years,” Weaver said.

Senior Cooper Davis, one of the team members for Weaver’s campaign, fought his own battle with Leukemia when he was 11 years old, so he knows the importance of supporting LLS.

“Since I have been affected by Leukemia, I know how difficult it is. I have been able to experience firsthand what having blood cancer is like, and I have seen others struggle with it too. It is really rough so I know cancer patients want all the help they can get. I have made friends at the hospital, both nurses and patients, regardless of whether they were before or ahead of me in treatment and it is really exciting that I am able to help people like them. I have been able to see how LLS helps and the difference they can make for cancer patients,” Davis said.

Weaver has been preparing for this campaign for several weeks, and there is a substantial amount of work that goes into organizing the campaign.

“At the beginning of my campaign, I sent out a ton of letters to friends, family members, and people. We knew to explain the campaign and ask for donations. I have been sending emails to businesses to see if they would be interested in donating or a sponsorship, which means I will go to them and present the campaign to them and my mission. My main goal is to get the word out to where we can reach as many people as possible to get as many donations as possible,” Weaver said.

Everyone can help Weaver’s campaign by donating to her fundraising online link and eventually Weaver will be selling bracelets to benefit her campaign as well.

“I have been extending the online link to where people can donate. I have been using social media to promote my campaign, and I posted it in my Instagram bio where a lot of people can easily access it. I am soon having a family friend make bracelets that I am going to sell at school and to family and friends that will also bring in more funds,” Weaver said.

Davis encourages everyone to donate anything they can, even if it is a small amount because eventually a little bit goes a long way.

“I have seen firsthand how the contributions made by LLS, even if they are small, really can help in the long run. Just taking a little time out of your day to donate can make a huge difference,” Davis said.

LLS not only extends efforts to blood cancer but also benefits numerous other cancers.

“While the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society is obviously focused on blood cancer, the research that they do has also been used to provide treatment and cures for other types of cancer, including pancreatic cancer, which my grandpa died from when I was in middle school. I think knowing the work LLS is doing has not only helped my dad and other people who are suffering from blood cancer, but also with people suffering from other cancers, has made LLS really close to my heart,” Weaver said.

Being a team member for Weaver’s campaign has been rewarding for Davis because he knows the difference the contributions can make.

“When I went through my treatment, I was on the older age of the spectrum, so realizing there are kids that are even younger than I was that are going through it that are confused or scared, any kind of comfort we can give them will really go a long way,” Davis said.

Weaver hopes she is able to be a part of making a difference for those suffering from cancer.

“I am really grateful for the people in previous years who had donated to LLS so they can put in all the work they are able to do because without them there would be a chance my dad would not be here to watch my brother and me grow up and support us. I want people to know the money that is donated truly is changing people’s lives. No matter if it is just a small donation or buying a bracelet it can make a huge difference. Donations to LLS are changing so many lives of people and their families, including my own,” Weaver said.