Carmel High School sophomore Emily Biltimier has no personal connection to blood cancer.
“But I have had family members diagnosed and who have died from cancer,” she said. “Blood cancer is like a puzzle piece, because when they are trying to fight the blood cancer, it can also be a treatment for other cancers as well.”
Biltimier is one of 10 CHS students in the running for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Students of the Year honor. The others are Alyssa Hoogerhuis, Lilia Mills, Graci Graves, Katelyn Wang, Joshua Bopp, Daniel and Lauren Konig, Ava Connell and Lexi Dufek. The campaign starts Jan. 24 and runs until March 16. The candidate or co-candidate that raises the most money in the Indianapolis area earns the Student of the Year title.
Biltimier is a CHS girls basketball manager.
“I can hopefully get donation buckets for them to be allowed to donate at the door,” Biltimier said. “We sent out emails and letters to have multiple contacts to have them donate to my cause and blood cancer (research).”
Biltimier said she was inspired by the story of how cancer affected the Students of the Year’s honored hero, Carmel 10-year-old Riley McGuire. The Our Lady of Mt. Carmel School fourth-grader was diagnosed with B cell lymphoblastic lymphoma in October 2017.
Katelyn Sussli, campaign specialist for the LLS/Indiana Chapter, said many students have been inspired by McGuire’s battle through six rounds of chemotherapy, a bone marrow biopsy and 12 spinal taps.
“He is in the maintenance stage now and is a very active little boy,” Sussli said. “He’s a hockey player and bikes with his dad. It’s for our candidates who don’t have that personal connection to blood cancer. We love having those honored heroes so they can build that relationship, that this is a very real thing people face in their own communities who are facing cancer.”
Last year, nine candidates raised $380,000. Sussli said the collective goal is $500,000.
For more, visit studentsoftheyear.org/soy-candidates/1761.