Through personal inquiries, events, sponsorships and even running a Super Bowl pool this year, a group of students from Newport Harbor and Corona del Mar High School managed to raise $137,245 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
The effort marks another successful spate of fundraising for Newport Harbor’s “legacy” team, according to Julian Knott, a junior and co-leader of what he and his teammates call Team Cancer Crushers.
The team, composed primarily of students from Newport Harbor and Corona del Mar high schools, won a national competition held by the nonprofit called “Students of the Year,” a seven-week campaign during which high school students are encouraged to develop professional skills such as entrepreneurship, marketing and project management.
The donations are put toward research on blood cancer.
Emily Bartlett, the campaign development manager for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, said that the amount raised by Team Cancer Crushers is the highest to-date in the Orange County and the Inland Empire chapter. Thirteen teams, including Team Cancer Crushers, participated, raising $447,201 in total for the organization.
“Congratulations to Murphy, Julian and Luca, and all our candidates, supporters and volunteers who helped to make Students of the Year a huge success. Despite the unprecedented challenges throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, they never lost hope,” said Executive Director Kathlene Seymour in a statement.
“While everyone was working to adjust to a ‘new normal,’ they relentlessly wanted to make sure to not forget the over 1.3 million people living with or in remission from a blood cancer, many of whom are children,” Seymour said. “For these individuals, it’s not just about winning a title; it’s all about the impact they are making in their communities and the generations ahead of them.”
The organization estimates about 376,508 people are currently living with or are in remission from leukemia and about 791,550 living with or are in remission from lymphoma in the United States.
“We heard about it from last year’s team, but also I’ve had cancer in my family,” said Newport Harbor sophomore Luca Curci.
Julian and Murphy Malouf said they decided to participate because of their high school’s history with the campaign, and they wanted to continue the tradition.
The team formed in November and included students the three team leaders were acquainted with from school: Justin Knott, McKenzie Greer, Race Barton, Oliver Ayala, Brady Hatfield, Jillian Schlom, Max Berkenfield, Noah Wickett, Dylan Li, Noah Foigleman, Kate Bashkore, Lucy Shannon and Juliane Kwong.
“We asked people who would raise money and would actually care to do it,” Murphy said.
Team Cancer Crushers’ main source of donations came in response to personal emails members sent seeking help for the cause.
“Everyone was so over quarantine and finally getting to see kids do some normal kid things, they wanted to support it and come out,” Julian said in an interview Thursday.
Organizing was tough, the three admitted. Between classwork and their collective sports and clubs, they met twice a week — once with the full team and once with just the three of them.
They said they passed down the torch to the next team, but they’re hoping to establish a club on campus to make sure efforts to participate in the Students of the Year competition continue.
Murphy said he didn’t realize until recently how big the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society is in terms of its fundraising efforts. He said it was “really cool” to raise money for research to continue at the nonprofit.
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