They could earn “Students of the Year” title while raising money for LLS and learning valuable professional skills
By Chuck Gibson
Three Loveland High School students have accepted the nomination for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) “Students of the Year” fundraising campaign. The LLS program for high school students is focused on developing future leaders in the community while raising funds and awareness for LLS. Sam Greenberg, Jordan Sovik, and Ben Westley accepted the challenge to lead a seven-week fundraising effort throughout the Loveland community January 9, through February 28, 2020.
None of the three had a personal connection to anyone with a blood cancer when they accepted the nomination from Loveland Middle School (LMS) teacher Katie Rose during the summer. Earlier in the summer Rose accepted an invitation from Molly Rebholz, campaign manager for LLS’s Students of the Year program, to join the leadership team. Then, in August, Ms. Rose’s 53 year old aunt was diagnosed with the disease. Only three weeks later Tina Eubanks passed away. She left behind a husband and three daughters.
“I feel like it is personal now,” said Sovik. “That’s the biggest impact on me.”
Seeing how quickly it happened with Ms. Rose’s family has given all three Loveland SOY candidates more motivation. Observing the impact on family has helped them realize the need is bigger than what the three of them can do. It is the reason they are reaching out in an effort to get the whole community of Loveland to do something with LLS.
The program officially kicks off January 9, at Dave & Busters in Cincinnati, and closes out with a Grand Finale Celebration February 28, at Paul Brown Stadium. Sam, Jordan and Ben, Team CUREage, can only collect money during those seven weeks in between. They are not alone in the program raising funds for LLS and the title of Students of the Year in Cincinnati.
“We have 19 teams this year,” said Rebholz, “very exciting.”
Rebholz works directly with the students from all 19 teams including Team CUREage from Loveland. During the summer she asked Ms. Rose to join the leadership team. This year is the fourth year for the program and the third year LHS has been involved. A silent auction of seven goodie baskets from each team during the Finale on February 28, actually determines the final sum raised by each team.
“We don’t know even know our final amount,” Sovik said.
The teams do not know what any of the other teams have raised. They will only know their own tally along the way to the Grand Finale auction. Jordan likes it that way pointing out it keeps them focused on what they are doing. In the end, the effort of all 19 teams benefits the same cause: to end and cure blood cancer.
“It is important to remember, though technically we are running against each other, we‘re all running together,” said Sovik. “This is for a bigger reason than just winning the ‘Students of the Year’ title.”
The LLS mission and treatment not only for the patient, but for the family make it bigger than any individual and different than any other causes for Sovik. Ben Westley and Sam Greenberg have their own reasons too.
“I’ve experienced cancer in my family,” said Westley. “I’ve always wanted to help people. I’ve been active in youth missions from church, but never with an opportunity this big. Looking at this opportunity as a whole, this has the potential to see how many lives we can touch.”
“My grandma died from brain cancer,” said Greenberg. “I did some research and learned some treatments developed by LLS have been applied to other cancers. That motivated me. I’m pretty excited to do this.”
Pretty excited? So much so that when Ms. Rose asked him he responded with an enthusiastic ‘Yes, I’m going to raise $100,000.” Greenberg is community oriented, on student council and writes for the school paper. He said he admires the example of his Dad, Brad Greenberg, current judge and former member of City Council. Westley has been involved with church youth group for several years doing service for others directly. Sovik volunteers at a summer camp at St. Columban and works with Down syndrome kids.
“We’ve got a pretty good bunch here,” Rose said, “the dream team.”
This is a different experience for each of them. They’ll be collecting/asking for money rather than hands-on assisting individuals. They are learning lessons of what works, what doesn’t, how to ask, understanding it is not personal when the answer is a no. Those real world life lessons are a big part of the goal for this Leukemia & Lymphoma Society program. The goal for Team CUREage goes beyond raising the money.
The three will not give a specific amount of money as their goal. They see that as a potential limit to their initiative. Rather, the vision for team CUREage is getting the whole community involved, not just donating money, but volunteering, donating time to help with events. Ultimately, they want to get as much information out as possible to build awareness for LLS.
“Money is important, but just seeing what our community can do,” Sovik explained. “Get the whole community together, not just what the high school can do, but what community can do.”
The winner last year was Forest Hills School District with Anderson and Turpin high schools rallying together. Loveland School Superintendent Amy Crouse lives in the Forest Hills district. The team has met with Crouse and has her commitment to help along with a clear message: ‘We’re going to give them a run for their money.’
“Superintendent Crouse is super supportive getting the other Loveland school buildings involved,” said Rose. “We want to be able to identify students we will sort of pin as the next fundraising team from Loveland to create a legacy for everyone who has kids in Loveland goes through this. If we can plant those seeds in schools all around the city and have kids doing this, that’s the goal.”
Jordan, Sam and Ben are already reaching out beyond their personal abilities. They’ve met with community businesses like Bishop’s Quarter, Chipotle and others to enlist their support. They made their first big presentation to Art Jarvis who is helping them make connections with more community leaders. They meet with Molly Rebholz to prepare for the January 9, kick off of the seven week fundraising program.
“It is a leadership development program which enables high school students to make a difference in the blood cancer fight,” Rebholz said. “We’re really excited working with the kids from Loveland; Ben, Jordan and Sam. They’ve been working so hard to get out into the community to spread the word. We’re super impressed with them and their professional skills and really honored to have them on our team.
Rebholz is their guide along the way with LLS helping them learn the real world skills necessary for a fundraising campaign. Time management, goal planning, meeting deadlines, being mindful of other people’s time, seeing there are other ways besides donating money people can help. Already they are planning a master calendar for events like charity dodge ball, a variety show, and donut Friday with one parent donating the time to get all the donuts to the school early in the morning. The message has translated well for them.
“It goes beyond raising money,” said Greenberg. “The impact we have on others to see us doing this and then are motivated to do something.”
“This goes beyond us,” said Westley. “We have a lot of problems in this world. If everyone does their own part to make a difference, we can definitely change the world in different ways.”
Jordan, Sam and Ben realize they are not the team. The community is the real Team CUREage. It is the reason they are reaching out to so many people in so many places all around the community.
“We don’t know everyone in the community, but we want to get everyone involved,” Jovik summed it up. “It’s exciting to see how many people are willing to help.”
Team CUREage – Jordan Sovik, Sam Greenberg, Ben Westley and the Loveland Community kicks off fundraising for Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Students of the Year program January 9, 2020 – February 28.
Note: You don’t have to give money to help. Donations can only be accepted January 9 – February 28, 2020.
Donations can be made at https://events.lls.org/soh/TriStateSOY20/tcureage
Click here for more about LLS and Students of the Year program
Sing up to Save Lives via email at: TeamCureAgeLHS@gmail.com