Two students from Half Moon Bay High School are in the running for a Student Visionary of the Year Award from the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
Jaquelin Vasquez Hernandez, grade 11, and Lauren McClellan, grade 9, are at the tail end of a seven-week competition for which they have organized fundraisers benefiting LLS. Both students became involved with the health organization through Real Life Learning, which helps connect high school volunteers with nonprofits.
“This is a significant undertaking, and we are proud of their entrepreneurial spirit and commitment to a life-saving cause,” said Karen Hoffman, coordinator of the Real Life Learning program at Half Moon Bay High School.
Hernandez and McClellan have organized fundraisers such as a tennis tournament and a silent auction. The two students took on fundraising challenges for personal reasons.
“My grandmother, Patty Jensen, was misdiagnosed many times before being told she had cancer,” said McClellan. “My mission in participating in this fundraiser is to raise money for cancer research. With ways to help diagnose cancer, create more tolerable treatments, and improve the lives of cancer patients, our world can surely become cancer-free.”
Hernandez was focused on increasing equal access to health care across socioeconomic groups. “I’ve seen what the cost of cancer treatments can do to low-income families, and that motivated me to support cancer patients in any way possible,” she said.
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is a national nonprofit dedicated to finding a cure for leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's lymphoma and myeloma. It also works to improve the quality of life of patients and their families. The organization’s philanthropic leadership development program builds multi-generational teams, such as the ones that Hernandez and McClellan joined, to help raise awareness of and funds for its mission. The elite program accepts a maximum of 20 students per year. Winners of the Student Visionary of the Year Award will receive a letter of recommendation for college and a scholarship. Also, their names will be added to a research portfolio.
Jennifer Sousa, campaign development manager for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, has been helping
McClellan and Hernandez with their fundraising campaigns.
“Lauren and Jacquelin have both been wonderful students to work with,” said Sousa. “Jacquelin is personally passionate about patient support, while Lauren is passionate about research. They are each representing a different pillar of our mission.”
On Saturday, Hernandez and McClellan will attend the Grand Finale event in San Francisco, where the chosen Student Visionaries of the Year will be announced. Hernandez said that winning a Student Visionary of the Year title would only be one of many rewards gained through her participation in the competition.
“I have just been happy to have this experience,” she said. “I have learned a lot about public speaking, organization and leadership. I am mostly so proud of what I have learned throughout this journey.”
Contributions to the fund-raising campaigns of Hernandez and McClellan will be accepted through June 30. Note that any donations received after March 23 will not be counted toward their pending awards.
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