Local Student Luke Andritsch is Competing in the Annual Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Campaign
Photographer / Amy Payne
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) Students of the Year campaign is an annual, seven-week fundraising competition that requires participants to develop their leadership and organizational skills. Individuals must be nominated and selected to compete with each other while heading up a series of activities that raise money to benefit the LLS. Many have firsthand experience of how these illnesses can impact a family and turn normal lives upside down. This is the case for Hamilton Southeastern High School senior Luke Andritsch, who was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a type of blood cancer, when he was 3 years old.
“Immediately after, LLS stepped into my family’s life providing resources about what the next couple of years were going to look like for us,” Andritsch says. “LLS’s mission has always been to cure blood cancer but they also work to improve the welfare of kids who are going through it. That is why I chose to sign up for LLS Students of the Year campaign, because they make such an impact on a child’s and family’s life from all different aspects. They had that effect on me and I hope my efforts help another family have the same effect.”
Being chosen to be a competitor in Students of the Year campaign has been on the radar for Andritsch ever since he was a freshman in high school. His family has been involved with LLS efforts to raise money for research. Besides participating in half-marathon and triathlon fundraisers, Andritsch’s mother, Vicky Andritsch, won 2017 Woman of the Year, which is a similar LLS campaign for adults.
LLS leaders selected several candidates from the central Indiana region. These individuals vie to see who can raise the most money during the campaign, which runs from January 20 to March 11. The competition closes during an event attended by the students’ teams and supporters. The winner is announced, but all celebrate that the funds raised will go towards finding a cure.
“I wanted to wait to be in the program because I knew as I matured, I would be able to do this to the best of my ability and have more connections to go full-in and raise as much money as possible,” Andritsch says. “Of course, this is a competition but the other candidates and I have the same goal of ending this horrible disease. Every three minutes someone is diagnosed with a blood cancer, so we are all motivated that no individual must hear this horrible news.”
Andritsch and some of his team members chose to do a 4x4x48 challenge. It involves waking up at 4 a.m., running four miles, and then repeating the run every four hours for 48 hours.
His team of multigenerational members has planned other novel ideas to generate donations. Andritsch, who has been growing his hair out for two years in anticipation of a fundraising event, plans to cut it all off when a monetary goal has been met. In addition, the team members are doing a competition of their own by splitting into groups to see who can get a donation from each of the 50 states.
“We have a lot more planned like dine-to-donates, fun runs, music concerts, letter and email campaigns, and everything in between,” Andritsch says. “The best way to learn about upcoming events is to go to my Instagram or Facebook. I have a fundraising page where people can donate and get updates on how the campaign is going.”
Andritsch and his team have set a fundraising goal of $175,000. If met, it will set the record for the most money raised by a student in Indiana. All the money raised goes straight to the LLS and the research they are conducting.
“LLS invests so much in research because currently the cancer treatments that kids must take are intended for adults,” Andritsch says. “At least 80% of childhood blood cancer survivors develop a chronic health condition from the toxic treatments, which is why LLS and I are so determined to raise money so kids who have to fight this horrible disease don’t have to deal with conditions for the rest of their life. Someday the treatment that I went through will be considered barbaric.”
“It is my number-one goal to help fund the research LLS is doing,” he continues. “Please consider donating. We aren’t going to wake up one day with cancer cured. It is going to take the hard work of everyone, not just doctors, scientists or me. It takes every single person to bring an end to this horrible disease. By donating you can become a part of the generation that will bring an end to cancer.”
Visit Andritsch’s fundraising page at events.lls.org/in/indianasoy22/landritsch.