Masuk students raise money for Leukemia and Lymphoma Society

Pictured in front, from left, are Masuk team leaders Vibhuti Jani, Yara Shaik and Safa Memon. Behind them, from left, are team members Emily Hull, Julia Sternthal, Claire Valle, Keira Witkowski and Zoe Santos, with Iga Leszczynska, the Medical Awareness Society club advisor at Masuk High School.

A group of Masuk High School students were among 15 teams from around Connecticut to participate in a seven week fundraising challenge, collectively raising $146,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) through the Student Visionaries of the Year program.

Student Visionaries of the Year is a philanthropic leadership development program allowing highly motivated, high school leaders to embark on a journey of professional growth, fostering professional skills such as entrepreneurship, marketing and project management, while raising as much money as possible for LLS’s mission.

“It is incredible to see what these young people can do, bringing their schools and communities together while raising tens-of-thousands of dollars for LLS,” said Catherine Morley, campaign development manager for LLS. “We are looking for high school students with a competitive and generous spirit who are looking to make an impact in the lives of others. We provide support and resources, but are blown away every year by the creativity and tenacity of the teams.”

The fundraising competition is open to all high school students in Connecticut. Parents, teachers, coaches and community leaders are encouraged to nominate students. The team that raises the most money during the seven-week challenge will be named Student Visionaries of the year and receive a college scholarship along with the opportunity to compete against teams nationwide for an even larger award. 

Masuk team leaders, Vibhuti Jani, Yara Shaik and Safa Memon, and members Emily Hull, Julia Sternthal, Claire Valle, Keira Witkowski and Zoe Santos attended the Grand Finale Celebration Banquet in Farmington last Friday, with Iga Leszczynska, the Medical Awareness Society Club advisor at Masuk High School.

“The first time I heard about this campaign, I was intrigued most definitely, but I didn’t see the full potential till I met Mrs. Morley and learned about the campaign deeply,” Memon said. This campaign does so much for cancer patients, and our team at Masuk worked so hard to play a large role in it — and boy did we succeed.”

“With thousands-of-dollars fundraised, a team of over ten members and supportive advisors, we found our purpose and aided our community tremendously,” she continued. “As the founder of the Medical Awareness Club at Masuk, when I first started this club, I would have never imagined it would get so far to directly raise support for my community. Not only am I thrilled for our current success, I am excited to see how far we can go as time moves. Especially when we dip back into this campaign next year!”

“My experience with LLS really opened my eyes,” Shaik said. “Before I had not known much about the cause and after participating in this event I got to witness first hand accounts and learn from them and it motivated me to help them. I was able to gather a team who shared the same motivation and raised money for this cause. This brought us closer together to work towards educating the public, which was the basis of this club in the first place.”

Witkowski said, “I learned the importance of teamwork and how working together, not just as a group, but as a community can make a big impact on something as big as cancer. Also, I learned that you can make a difference and help people, even if you don’t see them physically or even know them.”

Valle said, “through this experience, I was given the opportunity to use my voice to advocate for a good cause and be a part of something bigger than myself. This experience was inspiring and I am forever grateful to have been a part of this team. I am so proud of our accomplishments and look forward to participating in this campaign next year.

Santos said, “being a part of this campaign over the last seven weeks has meant a lot of me. Raising money, volunteering my time and interacting with people has taught me much more about leukemia and lymphoma, as well as the people struggling through these diseases.”

“Going to the banquet made me feel a roller coaster of emotions,” she said. “I felt happy, sad, excited, passionate and heart-warmed. Overall, this campaign has taught me and impacted me so much. It was wonderful participating in an event that was so much bigger than myself and that helped so many people! I’m so excited to participate in this campaign again next year.”

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