Coronado student leads fundraiser in fight against leukemia

Posted Monday, 17 February 2020 ‐ Las Vegas Sun

Sidra Wohlwend learned the value of philanthropy at a young age when volunteering with her mother in the National Charity League. Now the Coronado High School senior is tackling a new cause, leukemia. It’s an issue that hits close to home, as her grandfather died from a rare form of cancer about a year ago. Her middle name “Ann” is also in honor of her great aunt, who died after battling leukemia shortly before Wohlwend was born.  Wohlwend is one of 13 students across the valley nominated for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s annual Students of the Year program. Each student builds a team of 24 student peers behind them with the goal of raising the most money for cancer research in seven weeks.  “It took awhile to get the best people behind me,” Wohlwend said. “Everyone on my team is so dedicated.” Giving back is a strong value in Wohlwend’s family, said her mother, Candice Tung. She believes in raising her children to look out for those in need and see outside themselves.  “We’ve both been very blessed in our lives to be self-sufficient and really have not required outside help,” she said. “While we’ve had plenty of cancer within our family, it was something we were able to handle within our own families. Just seeing the need out there with those in less advantaged situations, it’s really important.”  Wohlwend isn’t the only student in the competition who has witnessed the strain that cancer can have on a family. For Isabella Saunders, a sophomore at Adelson Educational Campus, the program is giving her the chance to honor her cousin, Caitlyn, who at 15 battled and eventually overcame Hodgkin’s lymphoma.  “Caitlyn went through four aggressive rounds of chemotherapy,” Saunders said. “It was very emotionally challenging (for me) during that time.” Wohlwend’s goal is to raise $50,000 for cancer care and research, which is enough to fund a grant under her team’s name, the SW Cancer Crushers. The fundraising goal would best last year’s local winner, who raised $42,000, said Alexandra Amato, a campaign specialist with the program. Money raised goes toward more than 300 active Leukemia and Lymphoma Society research projects and help more than 50,000 patients with subsidized treatment, Amato said.  Teams compete against each other for seven weeks until March 12, learning the value of teamwork and networking with colleagues. The winning team will go on to compete nationally for a chance to be featured in Forbes Magazine.  “Through this program I’ve learned that delegating tasks is really important and everyone wants to do the best. I know I have a really great team behind me,” Wohlwend said.  Like Wolhwend, Las Vegas Arts Academy senior Angelo Sapien has always had a knack for philanthropy and community service. So when he was nominated by a former classmate late last year to be a Student of the Year co-candidate, he pounced on the opportunity.  When Sapien was 14, he helped facilitate events at Container Park and raised money for the Nevada Childhood Cancer Foundation. His team, the Las Vegas is Beautiful Initiative, is coordinating with several local businesses including Zappos to try and “build a community around the cause.”  “I like creating win-win-win situations,” he said. "A win for you, a win for me and win for society.” Wohlwend said the competition has already expanded her skills in working with corporate sponsors. She hopes to gain a new perspective on the world.  “I’ve just been living my own little life and I really haven’t been looking out with the perspective of seeing all these different sponsors and companies so willing to give back,” she said.

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