Alexander Hamilton Jr./Sr. High School students Melinda Chavez, Henna Khan and Patricia Paladio, who attend in the Elmsford Union Free School District, are among nine teams of young philanthropists from high schools across the region that the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society has nominated as “Students of the Year.”
The girls, two 11th-graders, and one 10th-grader have been given the chance to claim that title as part of a fundraising competition to see who can raise the most money for blood cancer research.
The motivated teens are supporting the campaign’s “Honored Hero” Giovanni “Gio” Toribio, a 6-year-old from Ossining who was diagnosed with Stage 3 Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma at age 4 and is currently cancer-free.
On Feb. 9, Library Media Specialist and Interact/Rotary Advisor Lisa Watson invited Gio and his mother, Lauren, to a special assembly at the high school to raise awareness of the girls’ efforts and of blood cancer in general.
Mrs. Toribio told students in the packed auditorium about the importance of donating blood to save lives. Her son has had several transfusions during his battle with cancer.
Gio, who was treated at the Maria Farari Children’s Hospital in Valhalla, also has the McCune-Albright syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that affects the bones, skin and several hormone-producing tissues.
A representative from the American Red Cross also spoke to the students about the Feb. 14 blood drive at the school and the importance of donating a pint of blood, which can save three people and benefit children like Gio. Seniors Tabitha Yuqui and Angela Ramos spoke about the need for permission slips from the parents of 16-year-old students who wish to donate.
In the weeks leading up to the final day of the drive, March 8, the girls will be making every effort to raise as much money as possible by organizing events like bake sales, collecting and recycling bottles around the school, selling t-shirts, stress balls, paper clips, flashlights, and paper blood drops for people to sign on the "Make A Change" wall outside the school library.
Donations are also being accepted online at http://events.lls.org/ctwhv/CTWHVSOY2018/teamahhs
If the team raises the most funds, they will be named “Connecticut Westchester Hudson Valley Students of the Year.”
“Our students make me proud every day,” Ms. Watson said. “These five girls go above and beyond trying to make the world a better, safer, healthier place one mission at a time. My goal as a mentor/teacher is to introduce our students to our world's needs and support them on their journey however I can. Our students are our leaders of tomorrow. I cannot wait to see how the skills they have learned at the Alexander Hamilton High School lead them into their future.”
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