Giving presentations, enhancing awareness about an issue, seeking sponsorships, working to raise tens of thousands of dollars for blood cancer research and leading a team.
While these may not be the first activities that come to mind when thinking about high school sophomores, it’s exactly what a pair of Severna Park residents are doing.
Archbishop Spalding High School sophomores Clare Donovan and Madeline Lancione are serving as co-captains of a 10-teenager team, dubbed We Got CUREage, that’s raising money for blood cancer research as part of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Student Visionaries of the Year campaign. The seven-week national fundraising competition concludes March 4.
“The mission that LLS has really spoke to me,” Madeline said. “I figured this would be the perfect fit for me.”
According to Andrew Steckel, a Baltimore-based campaign development manager for Student Visionaries of the Year, the campaign teaches students not only what LLS does, but it also provides the kids valuable leadership and business skills. Steckel said these lessons are all en route to the campaign’s ultimate goal for each of the participants — becoming a better person.
Madeline and Clare both have personal reasons to participate in the competition. For Madeline, cancer is a disease that’s touched her dad, aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents.
Clare didn’t hesitate to say why LLS research is important to her. Her grandmother had a stem cell transplant — made possible by LLS — to battle her blood cancer.
“I don’t think she’d be here without LLS,” Clare said.
According to the LLS, the organization has invested about $1.6 billion in research as part of its mission to cure leukemia, lymphoma, myeloma and other blood cancers. It’s also helped advance 70% of the blood cancer treatment options approved by the Food and Drug Administration since 2017.
“What’s great about LLS is 60% of all research done by LLS also carries over to other types of cancer as well,” Steckel said.
Steckel touted the fundraising prowess that Archbishop Spalding students display year after year. Since 2018, teams from the school have raised more than $410,000 for LLS.
He doesn’t expect any letdown this year.
“They took leadership and ownership right off the bat, which is something you usually don’t see from high school students,” Steckel said of the We Got CUREage team.
Earlier this month, Maggiano’s in Annapolis hosted an event designed to help the girls of We Got CUREage raise both money and awareness. The evening’s guest speaker was Dr. Barry Meisenberg, chair of the department of medicine at Luminis Health Anne Arundel Medical Center, who spoke about advances in cancer treatment.
Meisenberg also praised the members of We Got CUREage, pointing out that they’re at an age where it’s expected for them to focus on themselves rather than dedicating time like they are to battle blood cancer.
“I hope it will end up being a lifetime commitment,” Meisenberg told the girls.
While Madeline was finalizing her speech that she’d give during remarks at the Maggiano’s event, she reflected on how the Student Visionaries program has given her lessons she’ll take beyond the campaign.
“Speaking in front of my English class isn’t the same as speaking in front of 50 adults,” Madeline said.
Clare echoed Madeline’s sentiment.
“A bunch of people in college are learning the skill of public speaking, and I’m getting it now,” Clare said.
Each of the 22 Student Visionary of the Year campaign teams in Maryland were given a choice for its fundraising dollars to go to one of the three pillars of LLS — research, advocacy or patient support. We Got CUREage chose research.
“Everything was impossible at one point in history, so a cure for cancer might be impossible now, but it might be possible later,” Clare said. “The more people learn about it, the higher chance we have of a cure.”
Madeline shares a similar vision to her co-captain.
“My dad always says, ‘I want you to be the last generation to have to deal with cancer,’” she said.
We Got CUREage is hoping donations will keep coming in so they can reach their goal of raising $50,000 for blood cancer research by March 4.
On the final night of the campaign, an event titled The Grand Finale will take place at the BWI Airport Marriott. At the event, in which Madeline and Clare are already talking about getting to wear fun dresses, various awards will be given out for top teams, individuals, pillar achievements and those recognizing efforts to spread awareness.
For those interested in future Student Visionaries of the Year campaigns, email Steckel at email@example.com.
To donate to the We Got CUREage cause, visit events.lls.org/md/svoymd23/mlancione. Additionally, each Thursday through March 4, Garry’s Grill will donate 20% of proceeds from dine-in customers at the restaurant to help the girls of We Got CUREage reach their goal.
Madeline explained that she wouldn’t have the exposure to an event like the recent one at Maggiano’s if it wasn’t for the LLS initiative. But, as much as she’s relishing the life lessons and opportunities the seven-week campaign offers, she’s still focused on what her team is doing for others.
“I’m not just here for the experience, I’m also here to do something good,” Madeline said.