LLS nominees fundraise to cure blood cancer


Photo used with permission of Gracelynn Hyman.

Gracelynn Hyman in a meeting on Microsoft teams with Maria Trivunovic, Becca Kraft, Kelly Keene, Phyllis Hyman, Michelle Huston, Jessica Chapman and Casey Alexander. The meeting was on August 15, and the purpose was to introduce the job of the teammates in the program.

     Students of the Year by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS)  is a philanthropic leadership development program where nominees can develop skills related to marketing and project management. In the program, candidates gather a team and find sponsors to help fundraise. The money collected goes towards helping children going through chemotherapy and funding research to find a cure for blood cancer. The final goal is to collect the most money and make a difference in the lives of those who need it. Sophomore Gracelynn Hyman is a nominee and she leads a team as part of the program. Last year’s winner raised over $136,000 and her goal is to beat the record.

     “Since being accepted, I have just been working on reaching out to businesses for sponsorships, restaurants for dine-to-donates and creating a team of people to help me do the best that I can to raise money,” Hyman said.

     Candidates are given seven weeks to fundraise and collect money from sponsors, beginning on January 20. Donations can be made through any of the nominees or on the website.

     “After the kickoff, I have a week-by-week plan for my campaign. We have five dine-to-donates and three events planned,” Hyman said.

     According to the National Foundation of Cancer Research, every three minutes, someone is diagnosed with blood cancer. These patients are typically children.“We have an honored hero, 8-year-old Micah Bieda,” Hyman said. “He had Leukemia when he was 2 years old. He puts a face to leukemia and lymphoma.”

     Hyman said she has put a tremendous amount of time into the project.

     “My heart is in this, so my time is in it,” Hyman said. “My reason for doing it is because it’s something good, and something that I am passionate about. My campaign manager, Maria Trivunovic, has been an angel. She has helped me manage everything, stay on track, updated and motivated.”

     Junior Jacob Lee is one of Hyman’s teammates. He joined the team in December, 2021.

     “I recently attended the first meeting and we talked about how this campaign has been a  success over the years, and it will continue to be one,” Lee said. 

     According to Hyman, there are a lot of ups and downs in the process.

     “This campaign can be really frustrating because some people that you think are going to help you don’t, and some of the people who you never expected to do anything will do so much.” Hyman said.

     All the treatments that exist now are for adults. There is no treatment for children yet, so they are treated with the adult treatments. It is often difficult for them to handle the strength of adult medication, which can cause chronic illnesses such as asthma.

     “It is really hard for me to see children diagnosed,” Hyman said. “It is terrifying what the treatment does to kids. It is very easy to push it off if something doesn’t impact you. It is important because it is something bigger than ourselves, and it’s something that we need to learn about and help make a change on.” 

     According to the team, their participation in the program helped them develop as individuals.

     “It has made me a better person overall. I care more about the people suffering,” Lee said. “I want to help them out by participating. This has allowed me to develop communication skills by reaching out to so many people.”

     Hyman and her team are looking forward to seeing the program’s progression

     “It is going to be amazing to see how much people are willing to help and how a group of high schoolers can come together and make such a big change.” Hyman said.