by Ariana Habibi
How one Stuart student raised tens of thousands of dollars to benefit cancer patients and their families
For over one year, senior Lily Beres has been involved in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS), taking it upon herself to help those fighting cancer.
LLS is the largest voluntary health organization dedicated to blood cancer, and is at the forefront of blood cancer advances. The organization sponsors more than 300 active exploratory research projects, and ensures patients receive access to necessary treatments. Overall, LLS aspires not to cure cancer ‘someday,’ but to cure cancer ‘today’.
Beres was introduced to the effort by Caroline Sullivan, her cousin and Bishop O’Connell student. Beres served as Sullivan’s campaign manager throughout last year, and the two worked to raise just over $30,000. This year, a member of the LLS staff whom Beres had previously worked with recommended she become a candidate herself. Now, she has been nominated for Student of the Year.
The Students of the Year Campaign is a seven-week initiative in which nominated high school students essentially participate in a fundraising competition. The campaign launched on Jan. 5 and will culminate with a Grand Finale Gala on March 3, when the winner will be announced.
“Students are nominated as candidates, and then they form teams to raise money,” said Beres. “Each dollar raised counts as a vote to be the student of the year. There are kids from all over the D.C. area competing, mostly from private schools.”
However, more work is required to lead a successful campaign than simply asking for donations.
“We have been working since September to organize events, draft emails and secure sponsorships, but we weren’t allowed to collect any money until January 11,” said Beres. “We actually aren’t allowed to say how much we have raised exactly but we have about 3/4ths of our $20,000 goal, since we still have 4 weeks left we are now focusing on trying to get to our stretch goal of $30,000.”
Beyond aiding the LLS organization and blood cancer patients, Beres’ work has also caused her to feel more connected to her own community.
“Everywhere we went, someone had a personal connection to blood cancers,” said Beres. “A few weeks ago, we were in a yoga class and the woman sitting right next to us shared the story of her son beating leukemia! She has helped us since then and reminded us why we were doing this, so no other little boy would have to spend his childhood going to get chemotherapy treatments instead of going to the playground.”
Her team’s name, Team Trey, also honors a family friend of hers and his battle with the same disease.
“[Trey] was diagnosed with Philadelphia Chromosome Positive Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia in 2014,” said Beres. “He went through treatment and was officially in remission in January of 2016. Trey is the nicest, most positive person we know, and we are so inspired by his story.”
Beres has also attempted to incorporate the Stuart community into her work with LLS. Being the secretary of the National Honor Society, Beres has created service projects that relate to her Student of the Year Campaign.
“So far this year we have included the National Honor Society by allowing members to get hours by coming to events or sending emails,” said Beres. “It’s really hard to include the whole school, especially because what I really need is money, but I have a couple of ideas of things to do in school before the campaign ends.”
Students were also invited to help raise awareness for the kickoff fundraiser at Pizzeria Orso on Jan. 10, and Beres plans on organizing a coin drive later this year.
Beyond her involvement in LLS, Beres is an active member of the school community, as she participates in numerous clubs and athletic teams, and is a student-activist for the name change. Naturally, it can be difficult for a single individual to pursue these responsibilities along with a major fundraising endeavor, but Beres is dedicated to balancing her time for the sake of the cause.
“[My] planner helps me to make sure I know exactly what I have to do and when I have to do it,” said Beres. “I also did a lot of the hard work before the campaign started, so I drafted all my emails for each week back in the fall so each week I just have to send them out each week, which has been a lifesaver.”
Beres also does not view her work with LLS as being motivated solely by the Student of the Year Campaign, for she sees herself continuing to work with the organization through her college career and into adulthood.
“Tons of areas do LLS Light the Night Walks, so hopefully in college I will be close to a location where I can get involved or even start one,” said Beres. “I hope that one day when I am older I will be able to run for Man & Woman of the Year, which is basically the same as Student of the Year except for established professionals!”
As for how others can become involved in similar efforts, Beres has a few words of advice:
“Look for opportunities! They are everywhere if you look for them! Also do a service project that you’re passionate about, for the amount of work you put in it is not worth it to work on something you don’t care deeply about.”
To learn more about Beres’ involvement in Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, and to donate to the cause, please visit http://events.lls.org/nca/DCSOY2018/lberes