Three Minnetonka students are running for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Student of the Year award. This seven-week fundraising competition invites candidates and their teams to make a difference in the lives of blood cancer patients. The candidate who raises the most during the competition earns the title "Student of the Year" and a $2,500 scholarship to the college/university of his or her choice! Good luck to Courtney Chase, Emily Van Dixhorn and Lauren Sitzman!
Courtney Chase is a freshman at Minnetonka High School and a cancer survivor. Courtney raised $36,198.50 this year for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. "Being a cancer survivor I feel like this cause is incredibly close to my heart and so important," said Courtney, "I remember how terrifying every moment was and I am so grateful and blessed to have been able to do this." Courtney has been involved with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society for eleven years and has done various walks and triathlons and given many speeches for the LLS and other cancer organizations such as Pennies for Patients. Being a part of this campaign, Courtney has learned many things including networking, organizing business-wise, and that "If you share something important to you, many people are bound to pay attention and want to help you," she said. "I remember how terrifying every moment was and I am so grateful and blessed to have been able to do this."
Emily Van Dixhorn decided to fundraise for LLS because "Wanting to help but not having the money, resources, or connections to do so is frustrating, but this campaign gave me an opportunity to make a difference in so many people's lives despite being young," she said. This campaign was also very special to Emily as it gave her the "Opportunity to honor my friend from church, Kate Fronek, who died in July 2017 after fighting leukemia for five months. No one should have to lose a loved one to cancer, and I wanted to help make that a reality," said Emily. Emily got involved with LLS in November, and has "Learned so much about teamwork and having a good support system of people to help you," she said. "The people on my team were so helpful in raising money, collecting raffle basket items, connecting me to other people, and just supporting me in general." Emily raised $9,075.55 this year.
Lauren Sitzman decided to campaign for LLS because of the impact she knew it would have on so many lives. "I can't even begin to imagine what it would be like to hear that you have cancer," said Lauren, "and my hope would be that one day that news wouldn't have to be delivered to anyone." Lauren learned a lot about community from this campaign. "It really amazes me," she said, "how so many people were so willing and eager to donate to the cause. I think it's incredible to see how people are willing to come together and fight for such a great cause." Lauren got involved with LLS in November, and has been involved in some fundraisers and events for some of her family friends going through treatment. "I know and care deeply for many people who are currently in treatment," she said. "One of my teammates during the campaign, and my neighbor are both currently going through cancer treatment, and my heart breaks every time I think about how cancer has affected them and their families." Lauren raised $9000 this year.
"It takes a great deal of courage to step up and accept the challenge of running for the LLS Student of the a Year," said Michelle Seets, the Community Service Specialist at Minnetonka High School. The three students running for LLS Student of the Year "are service leaders in the Minnetonka community and hopefully their success will inspire others to step up and serve as well," said Seets, "their successes are a reminder that age shouldn't deter anyone from working to make a positive difference in our world.
It is so inspiring to see our own Minnetonka students making a difference in the world around them. The hard work that these girls have put in to make a difference in someone else's life is reflected in the common core values taught within the Minnetonka Public Schools district. Congratulations to all three girls for their hard work!