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High School Students Challenge Status Quo in Philanthropic Competition to Support Blood Cancer Patients and Families

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(RYE BROOK, NY, June 15, 2023) – Thousands of relentless high school students across the U.S. are committed to ending blood cancer and helping patients thrive — and through The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) innovative philanthropic competition, Student Visionaries of the Year, they’re showing no sign of slowing down.

Today, LLS announced the 2023 National Student Visionaries of the Year winning team, “Chipping Away at Cancer,” who broke a new fundraising record, raising $1.1 million to support LLS in funding lifesaving research, support for patients, and critical advocacy efforts. The unstoppable winning team is from Charlotte, NC and comprised of co-candidates, 16-year-old Mary Stewart Efird and 16-year-old Danny Horgan of Gaston Day School in Gastonia, NC and 16-year-old Evan Coverdale of Clover High School in Clover, SC.

Formally the iconic “Students of the Year” campaign, Student Visionaries of the Year is a groundbreaking leadership development program for high school students. Every year, courageous young leaders embark on an exciting seven-week journey with a goal to create a world without blood cancers, striving to earn the Student Visionary of the Year title and make their mark in the fight against blood cancer.

Knowing firsthand the devastation a cancer diagnosis brings upon a family, team “Chipping Away at Cancer” knew they wanted to do something to support others impacted by this terrible disease.

Efird nearly lost her beloved cousin, Lila, to acute myeloid leukemia two years ago. “Our family has recently experienced first-hand the transformational power of LLS,” she said.

Lila is now cancer-free because of an LLS-funded clinical trial. “I am so grateful and extremely proud to think that I was in some way a part of her survival,” said Efird.

Similarly, Horgan’s grandfather is a survivor of blood cancer and participated in his honor. “LLS is known for funding groundbreaking research, but they do so much more,” said Horgan. “LLS is a champion for all blood cancer patients and survivors, and they provide support throughout one’s entire cancer experience.”

“We are honored to break a new fundraising record and knowing the funds we raised are going directly to helping patients survive and thrive is what’s most rewarding,” added Coverdale.

Team “Change Cancer’s Course” made up of co-candidates, 17-year-old Alyssa Xu of Webb School and 15-year-old Becky Luo of Sierra Canyon School in Los Angeles, CA raised more than $512,000 for LLS, setting a new fundraising record for their region and earning themselves the national Student Visionaries of the Year runner-up title.

The duo had their own personal reasons for participating. Xu ran in honor of her grandparents and Luo decided to return to the campaign for a second year in a row.

“I was so amazed by the realization that young people like me, like us, can actually have an impact in this world,” said Luo.

“Even in my first year as a Student Visionaries of the Year candidate, it never ceases to amaze me how much power we have when we come together for the same goal,” added Xu.

“The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society was built on the same vision as these young visionaries - of a better world - one without blood cancers,” said Coker Powell, LLS SVP and Chief Development Officer. “And with the help of these incredible high school students across the country, our impact is stronger than ever and growing.”

Both teams displayed outstanding presentation and networking skills throughout their fundraising journey that will profoundly benefit them in their future endeavors beyond high school. In addition to fundraising, Students Visionaries of the Year candidates learn invaluable skills through guidance and mentoring, fostering professional skills such as entrepreneurship, marketing, and project management.

LLS’s signature fundraisers have helped invest more than $1.6 billion in cutting-edge research worldwide, fueling nearly every critical advancement in blood cancer treatment that spans the most promising cancer research.

Despite the progress, more than a third of blood cancer patients still do not survive five years after their diagnosis.

To learn more about Student Visionaries of the Year and how you or someone you know can get involved, visit,

Blood cancer patients and their families can contact the LLS Information Resource Center at (800) 955-4572, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., ET.

About The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society® (LLS) is the global leader in the fight against blood cancer. The LLS mission: Cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families. LLS funds lifesaving blood cancer research around the world, provides free information and support services, and is the voice for all blood cancer patients seeking access to quality, affordable, coordinated care.

Founded in 1949 and headquartered in Rye Brook, NY, LLS has regions throughout the United States and Canada. To learn more, visit Patients should contact the Information Resource Center at (800) 955-4572, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET. 

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LLS is one of Fast Company's "2022 Brands That Matter." As the only cancer organization on the list, LLS stands out among brands around the world for its relevancy, cultural impact, ingenuity, and mission impact.