By Chris Bavender
When it came to raising money for the inaugural Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Student of the Year campaign, it was a labor of love for 16-year-old Mason Klain. The Carmel High School sophomore picked cancer research to honor his grandmother who died three years ago from a rare form of lymphoma.
“My family has been involved with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society since 1993, and I wanted to carry on the tradition of helping out the community around us, and not just around us, but all around the world,” Klain said. “The biggest thing I love about the LLS is that they attack the battles that no one else wants to attack.”
Four other high school students from around Indiana also were involved in the campaign. During a seven-week period the students worked to raise money for their causes.
“My philosophy for the campaign was to be old-fashioned and attack it in a totally different way than the other candidates did, and that is by sending out letters in the mail and emails and calling people and meeting up in person,” Klain said. “I feel that doing all of those things showed the people who donated that I was very passionate about this campaign and really wanted to raise as much money as I possibly could.”
Klain said the campaign was “pretty competitive,” because none of the students knew how much the others were raising, which made them work even harder.
“My overall goal was $100,000, and I knew I could get it but I didn’t want the other candidates to think my goal was that high,” he said. “So we just put my public goal as $50,000, and then each time we reached it I changed my goal to a higher number.”
In the end, Klain won by raising $100,867, surpassing the other students and receiving a $2,500 scholarship. In total, the students raised $238,000.
“My family and I decided before the event ever happened that we would donate it back to the LLS, because I was not running for the scholarship, I was running in honor of my grandma, and I wanted to make that a point,” he said.
Although eligible to compete again next year, Klain has decided against it.
“Instead I am actually the chairman of the campaign for next year, and I am in charge of finding candidates and members around the community to help get involved with the campaign,” he said.