The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society has named twin sisters Hannah and Megan Carver from University High School its first Eastern Washington Students of the Year award.
The student-of-the-year competition has been running in select areas of the country for four years and has been steadily expanding, said Carolann Christnacht, student-of-the-year coordinator for Eastern Washington.
“They started small with the student-of -the-year program,” she said. “This was our first year in the Spokane area.”
The competition focuses on leadership and philanthropy. High school students are asked to set up a marketing program and then put that program into action to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. “It gives them a reason to raise money, a cause,” Christnacht said.
The Carver sisters knew Christnacht as the junior varsity tennis coach at their school and she convinced them to participate in the competition, Megan Carvar said.
They estimate they sent out hundreds of letters and emails to family and friends asking them to donate. They sold snacks at a local tennis tournament and served food at a racquetball tournament at the Spokane Club to raise money as well. “Me and Megan made pancakes for the players and asked for donations,” Hannah Carver said.
They also discovered many connections to the blood cancers the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society focuses on. “Our grandpa died from blood cancer,” Megan Carver said. “We were kind of linked through that.”
“We also found a lot of other connections to leukemia and lymphoma through people we’ve known for years,” Hannah Carver said.
The pair were able to raise just over $1,400, making them the top earners in the competition. “We were pretty surprised,” Hannah Carver said. “We didn’t raise as much as we wanted to.”
The sisters think working together as a team gave them an advantage. They were awarded a $2,500 college scholarship, which they plan to split. Megan Carver likes art and wants to study animation and Hannah Carver wants to become a physical therapist.
Both said they enjoyed the experience and would recommend it to other high school students. “I would for sure recommend it,” said Megan Carver. “It makes you feel good knowing you’re doing it for a good cause.”
The other candidates were Amanda Flory of Freeman High School, Avalon Tofsrud of Shadle Park High School, Bri Crowley of University High School, Chloe Garofalo of Shadle Park High School, Sadie Rison of Cheney High School, Isabella McLean of University High School and Lillian Ross of Cheney High School.
The money the Carver sisters and the other competitors raised will stay in Eastern Washington, Christnacht said.
In addition to funding research and advocacy, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society also helps individuals. Last year the society spent more than $346,000 in Eastern Washington, Christnacht said. The money is given to patients for everything from transportation to hotel rooms to certain medical expenses.
“It varies from person to person,” she said. “We’re very, very invested in giving back.”
Christnacht said she hopes the competition attracts more high school students next year, particularly since she was hired only a few weeks before the competition started this year. “My time was very, very limited,” she said.
The competition is open to homeschooled students as well as high school students. Participants also receive letters of recommendation they can use to apply to college or for jobs.
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