By Tom McDermott
Beginning in late January, Rye High School sophomore Cassidy Pagen led a fund-raising team, comprised primarily of Rye High students, as part of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) Students of the Year program.
The Students of the Year fund-raising campaign, which runs through March 11, is a national philanthropic leadership development competition in which students foster entrepreneurship, marketing, and project management skills in order to raise funds and awareness for those who suffer from blood cancers.
According to Devon O’Toole, Westchester-Fairfield chapter coordinator, “There are 20 teams in our area who compete, and the candidate and team that raises the most funds is eligible for the national competition. Last year, the program raised over $30 million to fight cancer.”
As Pagen and her 15- to 20-member team approached their original goal of raising $75,000 during the seven-week campaign, they decided to challenge themselves further, upping the goal to $100,000.
“Veronica Beard hosted us in early February, donating 10 percent of sales to our team,” Pagen reported. “Recently, we held a ‘Red-Out’ at Rye High at which students and faculty wore red to support the cause and made small donations.” A local family foundation also made a generous donation and small businesses, like love balloons XOXO, lent support.
Pagen’s passion to help those who suffer from leukemia, lymphoma, and other blood diseases comes from personal experience. “When I was 2½, I was treated for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center,” said Pagen, who will soon turn 16. Her treatment included both chemotherapy and surgery.
“As a leukemia survivor, I am excited to be leading this team and watching all its members reach their personal fundraising goals,” she added.
Pagen hopes to play varsity lacrosse this spring, and a keystone event for the team is a clinic for girls on March 6. Rye High Girls’ Lacrosse team volunteers will share their stick skills at donated space at Warrior Baseball in Port Chester: 9-10:30 a.m. for grades K-4, and 10:30-12 for grades 5-8. The fee is $50, and all proceeds will go to LLS. Both Rye Racquet and Windham ski area are providing promotional assistance to the team.
To support Cassidy Pagen’s team and LLS, visit events.lls.org/ctwhv/CTWHVSOY21/cpagen.