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The Dispatch

The student news site of James Bowie High School

The Dispatch

The student news site of James Bowie High School

The Dispatch

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Bulldogs Bite Cancer in local fundraiser

Sophomores join the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society for Student Visionaries of the Year

Robert “Robbie” Roesler de Villers quickly succumbed to leukemia at the age of 16, after five frustrating years of battling the illness with various treatments. His parents Rudolph and Antoinette de Villers set out to start a fundraising organization in their son’s name, geared to helping those who are suffering from the same illnesses he struggles with.

SAVING LIVES: Sophomore Addison Spalding joins her friends in signing up for a fundraiser. Each person has the opportunity to win student visionary of the year. (Photo Courtesy of Addison Spalding)

Now, over 70 years later, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) continues to support and fund cancer patients as they navigate their medical journey. As the society continues to grow, new fundraising plans have been made available to support cancer research.

“LLS Student Visionaries of the Year is a seven-week fundraising campaign, and there are 19 teams of 26 candidates, and I’m one of the 26 candidates,” sophomore Addison Spalding said. “I’m working in a group and we are currently on week four of the seven weeks and our goal is $40,000.”

Sophomore Colin Bay’s family first introduced him to the Student Visionaries of the Year (SVOY) program and was heavily encouraged to apply to participate. “Bulldogs Bite Cancer,” the Bowie chapter of this organization, was formed between Spalding, Bay, and their third member, sophomore Derrick Osobase.

“We are the first cancer fundraiser at Bowie,” Osobase said. “We also get to represent our school and doing this just genuinely feels good. I’m excited to find out how much we can get out of this, and to see just how much money we can raise in total.”

Participants competing in SVOY first decide on what specific section of LLS their funding will go towards, such as research, patient education and support, or advocacy. Bulldogs Bite Cancer is focusing their funding on research.

“My mom was the reason I joined,” Spalding said. “She worked at Dell Children’s Hospital with cancer patients for over 20 years. When she got diagnosed with cancer, she had some of the best doctors, who did such amazing things for her, especially with the advanced research. She took it so well. Derek and Colin have their own reasons, but we all chose to do this because of how much research has evolved in the past 20 years.”

pment Manager for SVOY, believes it is important for  younger generations to actively assist with cancer research, in whatever ways are sustainable for them.

“The youth is our future,” Lucas said. “Leukemia is the number one most diagnosed form of childhood blood cancer, and 480 people are diagnosed with some form of blood cancer every day. With younger generations being involved with LLS, it shows support for their own generation that is so heavily impacted by this disease, and their ambition to end blood cancer.”

The SVOY fundraising challenge ends on February 24. As the seven week period comes to a close, teams race to network and gain sponsors for their cause.

“You have to ask a lot of people, and then set up a lot of meetings to find sponsors,” Bay said. “It’s more difficult for in-person meetings, because you have to memorize everything in the presentation. But it is fun to get together during in-person meetings with our teammates.”

 

WORKING TOGETHER: The Bulldogs Bite Cancer team works along side their friends on their next presentation for Student Visionaries of the Year. The fundraiser ends on February 24 with a grand celebration for the teams, and recruitment for new teams begins in March (Photo Courtesy of Colin Bay)

In order to prepare for meetings, the team researches what sponsor they will be focusing on, and then uses google slides presentations, formatted and provided by LLS, to pitch to prospective sponsors.

“Colin is focusing on a lawyer right now,” Osobase said. “He’s going to get a meeting really soon, and we’ve also tried reaching out to Thomas J. Henry, which is a pretty big business here. My mom is a real estate agent, so we’re thinking about asking her for help. We have a team member whose dad works at Google, we were going to contact them, so it’s a lot of networking.”

The group continues to aim for $40,000, but believe with their current progress can even beat that goal.

“I hope that our purpose influences others,” Bay said. “I’m just excited to find out how much we can get out of this, and how much money we can raise in total. I feel like it’s important to volunteer, and LLS gives us benefits and helps other people out. So, it’s a win-win.”

Collecting sponsors is not the only way to support the Bulldogs Bite Cancer team. According to Spalding, anyone can make a difference.

“People can support the fundraiser in so many ways,” Spalding said. “I know parents are very involved, so I’m posting on Facebook and targeting those parenting groups who might be able to help us reach our goal. We also share the links of our individual stories. You don’t even have to donate money to contribute, just being able to share that link is helpful.”

According to Lucas, a Grand Finale round will be held at the end of the seven-week period, where they will announce the SVOY winner, and celebrate all the teams that contributed to the fundraiser.

“This experience has made me more aware of all the work it takes to be a part of this process,” Osobase said. “It’s already hard enough to ask people for their money, so you have to be very detailed in how you present. I’ve gotten better at that, and speaking to different people and being able to convince them.”

Since the foundation of the LLS, the organization has raised over $1.6 billion for their mission, and continues to advocate for cancer awareness.

“It feels really good to contribute to this, because I’ve lost many members of my family to cancer,” Spalding said. “My mom’s so proud of me. Being able to watch her grow after her treatment, was just a really nice experience. Every hour that you put into it is going to benefit somebody else. Even if you only donate $5 it’s all going to contribute to the cause.

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