Two Lawrence Township high school students, Maia McIntosh and Sophie Treend, are candidates for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) Students of the Year program for their tireless efforts to raise money for LLS.
Katelyn Sussli, a campaign specialist for LLS Students of the Year, says the student program is a philanthropic leadership development program during which students utilize professional skills such as entrepreneurship, marketing and project management in order to raise funds for LLS.
The title Student(s) of the Year is awarded to the student or student team who raises the most funds during the seven-week competition.
“During those seven weeks, (January 24-March 16), is when our candidates and their team members are able to accept transactions (donations to their fund-raising page, execute their events, send out letters and emails),” Sussli says.
The candidates are highly motivated high school leaders enrolled in public or private schools. Teams raise money in honor of a patient hero who is currently battling or is in remission from blood cancer. The campaign also offers visibility and recognition within the community, ensuring that candidates stand out when preparing for college and beyond. Candidates are also eligible to receive scholarships.
Maia McIntosh, a junior at Lawrence Central High School, says she decided to get involved in the LLS Student of the Year program because her father, Jeff, was recently diagnosed with Chronic Myeloid Leukemia.
“I am raising funds in his honor,” McIntosh says. “Being involved in this program is such a unique opportunity. As candidates for LLS Student of the Year, we get to be involved with a respected organization and make a difference for so many people touched by cancer.”
McIntosh adds that she has thoroughly enjoyed being involved in the program.
“I knew I would be making in a difference in the lives of others, but I had no clue that it would make such an impact on my life too,” McIntosh says. “The people I have met, the connections I’ve made and the skills I’ve acquired have exceeded my expectations.”
She also has enjoyed raising money for cancer research and informing other people about important work being accomplished through the LLS organization.
“I got the chance to educate people about leukemia and lymphoma, as well as share research being done to help patients with these diagnoses,” McIntosh says. “Through my fundraising process, I have met so many caring and generous people, and companies who are willing to donate to this needed cause.”
McIntosh’s future plans include attending college and focusing on the education of children living with disabilities and life-altering diagnoses.
“My hope is to minor in American Sign Language,” she says.
In the meantime, she will still keep working to raise money for LLS research.
“I have created a website, allowing people to donate to these efforts for LLS, as well as two other causes I am working on at this time,” McIntosh says. “If anyone wants to learn more, they can go to maiamcintosh.com.”
Sophie Treend, a junior at Lawrence North High School, got involved in the Students of the Year program through some of her friends at school.
“When I first heard about the campaign, I was intimidated to start, because it seemed so overwhelming,” Treend says. “Over the summer, one of my good friends, Claire Snyder, had been diagnosed with Leukemia. After thinking about what her family is going through and how amazingly strong and brave she has been, I knew that I wanted to do something to give back to her and families like her family across the map.”
Treend has enjoyed the campaign so far.
“I am so happy to be involved, especially getting to learn more about the leukemia and lymphoma society itself and just getting an overall great real-life experience on how to talk to all different sorts of people,” she says. “I’m learning about different businesses and getting to know the community as a whole. I love being able to help with a great cause.”
Treend secured sponsorships, planned team meetings and became “even more involved with the school system itself as well as the overall township, planning events and preparing a fundraising page.”
Treend noted that all the other students participating in the competition are kindhearted and outgoing.
“We all have the same overarching goal of being the generation that cures blood cancers, and we all believe that any sort of help we can get is amazing,” Treend says. “It’s good to have that connection with these other students. I have gotten especially close with Maia. Though we are both on different teams, we want to put this great cause through our school system and work together on a few projects. She has been amazing to work with.”
Treend plans to apply for Ball State University or Indiana University. She potentially wants to become a journalist for a magazine or work on her creative writing. “I love to write,” she says.
Treend adds that within the LLS competition, she and McIntosh are planning to host a Lawrence Central staff versus Lawrence North staff basketball game.
“All proceeds will go to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society,” Treend says. “We are so excited to continue working on this plan. I am very excited for the start of the Kickoff and to be fundraising for such a great cause.”
Visit Treend’s fundraising page at events.lls.org/in/indianasoy19/streend.
Visit Maia’s fundraising page at events.lls.org/in/indianasoy19/mmcintosh.