NHS students raise $27,000 for blood cancer patients

Kent Weeklies
Pictured are Nordonia HIgh School "Students of the Year," from left, Salvatore Laguardia, Gabby DeMarco, Athena Kolettis, Ally Siewert, Maddy Mika, Campbell McFerren, Abbey Colbert, and Brigid Czuba.
Pictured are Nordonia HIgh School "Students of the Year," from left, Ally Siewert, Salvatore Laguardia, Abbey Colbert, Brigid Czuba, and Maddy Mika.

Nordonia High School completed their fourth year of participation in The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s “Students of the Year” on Feb. 27 with a Virtual Grand Finale and silent auction. “Students of the Year” is a philanthropic leadership development program with participating student teams raising funds to support research and support for blood cancer patients during a 7-week campaign.

Nordonia’s team began planning the campaign last August, with the help of Emily Kouldeka, Cleveland Campaign Development manager for LLS, who is responsible for advising all 27 Cleveland area high school teams participating in the program.

"Team Nordonia Knights took their passion to new heights this year. The group, led by seniors, Emma Chase, Ally Siewert and Maddy Mika, was the largest team Nordonia has ever seen, with 30 students and adult mentors participating. This group battled through setbacks brought by COVID and developed new strategies in order to raise the most this team has ever accomplished," said Emily Koudelka.

Team Nordonia set a goal to raise $20,000 through a combination of in person and virtual events, a direct mail and email campaign, and partnering with many local companies and sponsors. When the last donations were counted, the team reached  $27,000 raised. During such a difficult year for so many people, the team was overwhelmed by the support they received from donors and sponsors in and around our community.

“We are thankful to so many people who helped us to exceed our goal by so much. We had an awesome team. Three freshmen on our team, Brigid Czuba, Salvatore LaGuardia, and Abbey Colbert raised almost $6,000 through their own family and friends, and there were many local businesses and staff members at the high school who supported us this year,” said Ally Siewert, team co-leader.

Not only was this a record-breaking year for Team Nordonia, but for the entire Cleveland area program as well. "We are beyond proud and inspired that these 27 teams of Northeastern Ohio high school students came together, during a pandemic, to raise a record breaking $960,329. That is money that is saving real lives, lives right here in our backyard. Some neighbors, friends and families, and some we may never meet or know but who will get to see the end of this disease because of what these students have accomplished," said Koudlka.

Nordonia’s “Students of the Year” team is now considered a legacy team, with plans already in place to participate next year. Current team leaders have already nominated three students who will take the challenge next year as the 2022 Candidate Team. Current Nordonia juniors, Campbell McFerren, Gabby DeMarco, and Athena Kolettis will lead next year’s team. They are excited for the opportunity to help more Nordonia students make a difference.

- Submitted by Ally Siewert, Emma Chase, and Maddy Mika, 2021 Nordonia Students of the Year candidates