Blood cancer, including Leukemia, is the most common form of cancer affecting children and teens, with a new patient being diagnosed every three minutes, according to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS).
The LLS, which has a satellite location in Stamford, has been on a search for high school-aged students to participate in their yearly Students of the Year program, described as “a philanthropic leadership development program during which students foster professional skills such as entrepreneurship, marketing, and project management in order to raise funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society”.
The title of “Student of the Year” is given to the candidate, or co-candidates, who raise the most money during the seven-week competition.
This year is the first time that the program is being held in the Greater New Haven Area, and Cheshire High School students and friends Olivia Gesler and Alyssa Behuniak have been chosen as Cheshire’s Student of the Year candidates, along with their entire team, “Rams 4 A Remedy,” which includes Cheshire students Katie Baroli, RJ Streater, Yuliana Tsapar, and Jenna Smith.
“We both really wanted to bring awareness to an issue that is important to us,” said Behuniak. “We both have people in our family who have suffered from all different kinds of cancer and we wanted to get involved.”
“We figured that, as high school students, we often aren’t able to do a lot,” added Gesler. “But this is something we can do to make a difference.”
The process typically begins with a nomination, courtesy of a teacher or community member who recognizes the students for their interest in fundraising and making a difference.
“We usually try to reach out to teachers who help out with the blood drive or advisors who deal with the students on a daily basis,” said Taylor Sickles, LLS Special Events Campaign specialist.
Gesler and Behuniak were nominated by their science teacher, Pamela Missal, with whom the two have had a friendly relationship during their years at CHS.
“Ms. Missal reached out to us and thought we would be good candidates for the program,” Gesler explained.
The students began their fundraising efforts on Jan. 30 and have already scheduled a variety of fundraising events for their cause.
“We recently secured a fundraising event at Mr. Bimonte’s Pizza for March 14, from 5 to 9 p.m.” said Behuniak. “The event will raise funds from any purchase made at Mr. Bimonte’s, including take out, as long as you mention us or the cause.”
They have until March 19 to reach their goal of $10,000, and the regional goal of $100,000.
Anyone can donate to the “Rams 4 A Remedy” team, and businesses can also choose to sponsor the team or donate in multiple ways. Checks can be sent to 3 Landmark Square, Suite 330, Stamford, CT 06901, and made out to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society with “Team Rams 4 A Remedy” written in the memo line.
Local businesses can also donate items or gift cards for their grand finale auction, and those interested can visit their website at https://events.lls.org/ctwhv/havensoy20/taremedy.
For questions about donating to the team, email RamsForARemedyLLS@gmail.com.