Independence High School Junior Patrick Firrell has joined the “Students of the Year” campaign to fundraise for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS).
This campaign is a seven-week philanthropic program in which students from local high schools foster professional skills including entrepreneurship, project management, and marketing to fundraise in the fight against blood cancer. The LLS organization is the world’s largest nonprofit group fighting blood cancer. They have developed advanced cancer therapies that have advanced to treat people with rare autoimmune diseases as well as other types of cancer.
The title of “Student of the Year” is awarded to the student in each community who raises the most money during the length of the fundraising campaign. The fundraising efforts are done in honor of a local cancer patient and Patrick has chosen his mother.
Patrick’s stepmother was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2014 and went through 12 rounds of chemotherapy. She has been in remission for four years. In 2015, Patrick’s mother was diagnosed with colon cancer and has gone through upwards of fifty rounds of chemotherapy. “Her determination to fight is what tells me to keep going and she is the reason I have chosen to participate in Students of the Year,” said Patrick.
His fundraising team is named the “Remission Fighters” and their goal is to raise $40,000 by the end of the campaign on March 13th. IHS American Sign Language (ASL) Teacher, Meg Popa, is supporting Patrick in his efforts with a fundraising page as well as joining Patrick in dying her hair purple, the designated color for Lymphoma.
“I have taught Pat for the past three years. He's currently in ASL III and a member of the ASL Honor Society. I feel so strongly about supporting him that I have joined in the purple hair and every time I pass a mirror, I am reminded of how blessed I am in my own cancer journey,” said Popa.
Patrick said, “I know the challenges that come along with being the child of a cancer patient, so I cannot imagine what it’s like to actually get diagnosed. People have too much to worry about as is without cancer getting in the way, and through this campaign, I’m aiming to lighten the load for patients and family members dealing with blood cancer."
Those with a connection to IHS can show their support on February 11 at the Men’s JV and Varsity basketball games against Brooklyn. Attendees can show their support by wearing purple, taking a chance on a 50/50 raffle, attempting a half-court shot for a Cleveland logo sign, or Shot for Tots.