Hudson team raises $50,000 for blood cancer research
To kick off 2021, three Hudson High School juniors took on the challenge of striving to raise $30,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS). Little did they know how significantly “Team Explorers” would surpass this goal in just seven weeks.
Hailey Walker, Emi Uijtewaal, and Quinn Delamater spent the final months of 2020 in preparation for their fundraising effort, for they would represent HHS as co-candidates in the 2021 Northern Ohio Students of the Year Program. The girls were bursting with ideas and excitement about sharing the mission of LLS with the city of Hudson. When the fundraiser began on Jan. 9, they were ready. Walker, Uijtewaal, and Delamater lead Team Explorers, their enthusiastic crew of adults and fellow students who played an important role in the Hudson campaign.
As soon as the campaign took flight, the girls were astonished by the support they received from the community. It only took three weeks for the Hudson team to attain their goal of $30,000, but they were prepared to aim higher. They couldn’t have gone above and beyond without each supporter along the way.
One of these supporters the team was very appreciative of is the Hudson City Schools. With students and teachers uniting in support of the HHS team for the Cleveland area’s fundraising competition, their seven-week long engagement with the event held tremendous value.
One fundraising project that certainly blew everyone away was “Hudson’s Got Talent.” The virtual talent showcase for LLS not only highlighted the abundance of talent that lies in our community, but shared information about LLS and stories about blood cancer. Team Explorers believed that incorporating the mission of LLS and using their platform to educate others was a high priority. The team wants to thank HCTV for airing the show, Mike Ondash, Elliot Durkee, and Jacob Moore for helping edit the video, all of the participants, and anybody who tuned into the program.
Team Explorers was also thrilled to have the support of many local restaurants throughout the campaign. In Hudson, Chipotle and Jersey Mike’s, and in Kent, Raising Cane’s, hosted give-back nights to contribute to Hudson’s effort for LLS. The team also wants to thank Rosewood Grill, Lager and Vine, Comida, 3 Palms, Gionino’s, Lulu’s, Johnny’s Diner, Heartwood, and Donatos for donating gifts that were raffled off to HHS students in return for a donation.
Corporate sponsors played a prominent role in Team Explorers’ success. They want to thank Great Lakes Auto Group, Ganley Chevrolet of Aurora, Arhaus Furniture, Gwendolyn Elizabeth, Smuckers, Famous Supply and the Cleveland Clinic. It was very kind for these companies to take the time to learn about LLS and readily support the noble cause. Their generous contributions were significant in leading the Hudson team to its culminating accomplishment.
As of midday Saturday, Feb. 27, the final date of raising funds, Team Explorers had accumulated over $45,000 for LLS. For surpassing their initial goal by an additional 50%, the team was already overjoyed with this achievement, but when the prospect of reaching $50,000 was encouraged by LLS staff leaders Emily Koudelka and Daryl Rakosy, the girls banded together in an effort to raise additional $5,000 just hours before the fundraiser deadline. Teams that reached that milestone would receive a mission portfolio that connects their donation to a specific branch of research, creating an ongoing, personal connection. Team Hudson Explorers had already come so close, the LLS leaders were determined to make this year’s team the first from Hudson to reach the milestone.
Even with only a few hours until the Grand Finale culminating event, Hudson did not give up hope. There had to be a way to go one step further and hit the mark of $50,000. Walker, Uijtewaal, and Delamater had connected with the Cleveland Clinic Cancer Center a few weeks prior to the close of their campaign. Upon reaching out to the organization on the final day, the Cancer Center was glad to help Team Explorers receive a special mission portfolio. That afternoon, thanks to the Cleveland Clinic, Team Hudson Explorers accomplished something far beyond their expectations. It was a miracle, one which many happy and thankful tears were shed over.
At the Grand Finale, this year a virtual celebration of all Students of the Year teams, Team Hudson Explorers was one of seven teams recognized as an LLS Mission Portfolio recipient. This was an incredible honor, and it truly would not have been possible without each giving heart that helped along the way. There were 27 student-led teams participating in the competition to raise funds for LLS. Team Hudson Explorers was one of seven to raise $50,000. In total, the 2021 Cleveland Students of the Year program raised $960,393.
Walker, Uijtewaal, and Delamater are beyond grateful for everyone involved in their fundraiser, for each individual played a key role in achieving the unimaginable. More importantly, the girls are filled with joy that their effort is all for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. They have great confidence in this organization’s ability to save lives and change them for the better. LLS excels in developing research for a cure and assisting patients and their families. The girls are so glad that the city of Hudson holds an important place in this outstanding program, and would like to thank the town from the bottom of their hearts for its support. Together, they made an impact that will last forever.
-- Submitted by Hudson High School junior Quinn Delamater