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A Better World

Local Teenager Raises Money for a Cause That is Close to Her Heart

Article by Laurel Otey

Photography by Suzanne Etherington

Originally published in Midlothian Lifestyle

Gracie Etherington is a Collegiate School sophomore who pursues numerous interests in art, history, sociology, and language arts. She also enjoys playing co-ed indoor soccer at school and with the Richmond Strikers. Gracie has been spending her time this winter like many of her peers – hanging out with friends, listening to music while studying or working out, and skiing whenever she has the chance – but she is not your average teenager.

Gracie describes herself as “an adventurous and outgoing person who loves to create memories with other people and experience new things no matter how challenging they may be.” She applies these qualities to her work with the 2023 Student Visionaries of the Year program where she is leading her team of fellow students to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS). During their annual campaign, high school students who are passionate about volunteerism, philanthropy, and community engagement work together across seven weeks to raise money and awareness for the important work at LLS.

What started out as an unexpected opportunity after being nominated by a family friend, has turned into a passion for improving the health and lives of others both in her community and across the world. In addition to her regular academic, sports, and personal pursuits, Gracie has spent her fall and winter preparing for her team’s fundraising campaign, called Team Grace. “I’m passionate about the work our team is doing because I know far too many people who have suffered from leukemia, lymphoma, and other forms of cancer,” says Gracie.

LLS is the largest nonprofit dedicated to creating a world without blood cancers. More than 1.3 million people in the US are either living with or in remission from blood cancer. In fact, blood cancers account for about 10 percent of all diagnosed cancers in the US each year. These types of cancers affect patients of all ages. Of particular concern are leukemias, which are the most common cancers in children under 15 years old and account for about 28% of all childhood cancers. While huge medical advances have been achieved across the past several decades, better treatment and prevention strategies continue to be needed.

The mission of LLS is to cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families. They do this through their medical research and by providing valuable support to patients and their families. “LLS’s environment is very accepting and supportive,” says Gracie. “The staff is wonderful, and they present their mission to the community in a loving and caring way.” According to the LLS website, “Since 1949, [LLS] has invested more than $1.5 billion in groundbreaking research, pioneering many of today’s most innovative approaches.”

LLS’s research and work also extend beyond blood cancers. “More than 40% of new cancer treatment drugs approved by the FDA since 2004 originally started as blood cancer treatments,” explains Gracie. In addition to funding medical research, the money raised for LLS helps fund blood transfusions and other treatments for patients who lack the financial means to support their recovery.

“I have seen patients and family go through stressful and draining treatments for cancer,” says Gracie. “It drives me to want to participate in the campaign in the best way that I can.” LLS enables Gracie to gain essential skills and knowledge as she works to help others. Team Grace’s fundraising campaign will be live from February 1 to March 24, 2023. They will be reaching out to donors, sponsors, and businesses by email, text, mail, and in person. Her team will also be hosting fundraising dinners and school events to help raise money during their campaign. At the grande finale, the winning team who has raised the most money during the fundraising period will be announced and earn the title National Students of the Year. “My teammates and I believe our efforts can make a real difference,” says Gracie. “Hopefully, together, we can one day rid the world of cancer.”

Getting involved with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is simple. Go to the LLS website to start learning about their mission, get involved in their fundraising programs, or donate by visiting: You can join the fight against cancer by applying as a student or sponsor of LLS’s Student Visionaries of the Year program at:

“Hopefully, together, we can one day rid the world of cancer.” - Gracie Etherington