MHS and LLS: Allies for a Cure
“For many people, the three-day Easter weekend was a lively combination of pastel-colored candy and meetings with relatives and neighbors. However, for 13 of MHS’ own, this year’s mini break also included donating a few hours of their time at the annual Easter Egg Hunt for a Cure, sponsored by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS).
This year’s Hunt at Queeny Park was the eighth that LLS has run to raise money for cancer research. During the morning of March 31, guests gathered eggs, rode ponies and took photos with the Bunny, who arrives each year via helicopter, courtesy of one of the local children’s hospitals, Joe Ruby, volunteer coordinator at LLS, said.
“Not only does the Hunt raise money, it also raises awareness of blood cancers and the kinds of successes we have been having in developing new therapies,” Ruby said.
Student volunteers, such as NHS members, assist with registration, costumes, beverages and monitoring children to ensure none of them get separated from their parents. In previous years, there were usually between 10 and 15 student volunteers from many different organizations and schools, Ruby said. This year MHS sent 13.
“As the Volunteer Coordinator, I am always on the search for people and groups who want to give their time,” Ruby said. “I was certainly fortunate to be told about Marquette.”
Although NHS usually works with LLS every year for many various events, this year they were invited to the Hunt when Ruby reached out to secure volunteers through the form on the NHS website.
Members of NHS accumulate hundreds of service hours before entering the organization, but often they are from a single source, such as a church or a hospital. The purpose of NHS is to provide different volunteer opportunities so students can find something new that they’re passionate about, Katie Bauman, co-sponsor of NHS, said.
“It can be very rewarding and gratifying knowing that you helped to change someone’s life, even if it’s in a small way such as just donating your time to an organization like this,” Bauman said.
Morgan Kovis, junior, learned about the event from the NHS calendar and signed up once she realized she had the time to go.
“I loved this event,” Kovis said. “It was so exciting seeing all of the kids faces light up when they realized they were about to hunt Easter eggs.”
The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society sponsors multiple events throughout the year. In addition to the Easter Egg Hunt for a Cure, they also organize the Light the Night Walk in the fall and the Pasta for Pennies Campaign.
“I think that it is important to volunteer for events such as these,” Kovis said. “It is incredibly enlightening to learn about such an important organization and the effect that it has had on people.”
However, out-of-school events are not the only way to help LLS raise money. Each year, LLS works directly with MHS through the Student of the Year Program.
While one of the main goals of the program is to raise money, LLS also hosts the program because it gives students the opportunity to develop leadership skills, work on project management, learn more about philanthropy, and work with a nonprofit group, Molly Deveine, the students’ coordinator from the local LLS chapter, said.
The program started in 2016, coming to MHS through the work of Adam DeGuire, then a senior. When he graduated, he nominated another student to take charge of the program for the next school year. This year was unique in that there were two separate teams raising money through this program, each led by either Neha Bhardwaj, senior, or Kartik Deshpande, junior.
This year the two teams have attempted to raise around $7,000 to $10,000 by selling biscotti, asking for donations, and coordinating fundraising events.
Bhardwaj said she was inspired by the children she works with each week at the Children’s Hospital. Many of them were battling cancer and diseases like leukemia and lymphoma, she said.
“I decided to take on this fundraiser because I’ve seen people and their stories,” she said. “Their strength to fight really amazes me. The least I can do is give back.”
Deshpande’s father has worked with similar programs, a factor that pushed him to work hard in his own involvement, Deshpande said.
“It was a great cause, a really good experience, and I’ve really never done anything like that for any organization,” Deshpande said. “I’m just glad I got chosen.”