Newsome High School students Brady and Ryder Davis are working hard this month to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS). The Valrico residents are running for the charity’s coveted Students of the Year title, which will be given to the team that raises the most money for LLS’s mission before the Grand Finale Gala on Saturday, February 29.
“We want to help raise money to fight blood cancers because it affects so many children under the age of 20,” say Brady and Ryder, who are 14-year-old twins.
The twins were nominated to run for the honor by Rebecca Arenas, a member of the LLS Board of Trustees and chair of the group’s Young Professional Council, who felt the brothers would make a great team to represent Lithia and Valrico as most of the other 25 student teams are from the Tampa area, representing high schools including Academy of the Holy Names, Tampa Prep and Berkley Prep. They decided to name themselves Team Wolves as a nod to Newsome High School’s mascot.
During the seven-week campaign, students raise money through fundraisers and donation drives to support a teenage Patient Hero who is currently battling or is in remission from a blood cancer. This year’s Patient Hero is Marissa Peddie, who was diagnosed with leukemia when she was 8 years old.
During the campaign, each dollar is a vote and the candidate team that raises the most money at the end of the seven weeks is named Students of the Year.
“Our mission is to not only raise the most money but also to bring attention to blood cancers like leukemia,” added Brady and Ryder.
According to LLS Student of the Year Campaign Manager Niki Miranda-Dubay, every three minutes someone is diagnosed with a blood cancer and, unlike other cancer, it is not possible to screen for or prevent most blood cancers.
“The only solution is to focus on cures,” said Miranda-Dubay.
Funds raised during the campaign are used to develop targeted therapies that kill cancer cells selectively, sparing the patient’s healthy cells and resulting in fewer related side effects. LLS also provides free information and counseling to help patients navigate their cancer journey and supports advocacy for laws to ensure patients can access the care and treatments they need.
All donations to the campaign are tax deductible and Brady and Ryder are also looking for donations for the Grand Finale Gala’s silent auction. To learn more, visit their team page at https://events.lls.org/sun/suncoastsoy20/twolves. For more information about LLS, please visit www.lls.org.