Fighting adversity with community service

What have you done to make your school or your community a better place?

At only three-years old, my sister lost her heart-wrenching battle against cancer. Four years later, I helplessly watched as two of my most-beloved cousins lost their own lives to this disease. It was while dealing with this onslaught of heartbreak that I first learned the importance of community. I desperately wanted to provide meaningful aid, and my early feelings of helplessness sparked my desire to participate in initiatives that provide the still-much-needed research and treatment that will end cancer. Then, when I became a freshman in high-school, I discovered the American Cancer Society’s (ACS) annual Relay for Life event.

Inspired by my older brother, I followed along to an ACS meeting. There I realized that I could do more than simply walk in the Relay; I could be an officer on the planning committee. I saw this as an opportunity to reclaim some control in a situation where I felt powerless. As a Youth Champion, I turned to my community and convinced local organizations and businesses to participate in the annual event, and then helped them meet their fundraising goals. I even spearheaded a city-wide initiative, called “Paint the Town Purple,” in which student volunteers would decorate our city with purple ribbons and...

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