The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) offers many initiatives to engage high school students in their mission. One such program is the Student Visionaries of the Year Campaign which is a philanthropic leadership development program for high school students. Young people who participate form a team and compete in fundraising the most money for the cause to earn the title of Visionaries of the Year.
Working as a team, Naisha Patel of Centerville High School and Anya Paliwal and Maya Patel of The Miami Valley School raised $210,726. They earned the title of Visionaries of the Year and were also recognized with the LLS Advocacy Mission Award for their commitment to mission integration during fundraising. These rising sophomores were able to accomplish a truly amazing feat while in their freshman year of high school.
Friends before becoming team “Crafting a Cure,” Naisha, Anya and Maya credit their bond as one of the key elements that led to their success along with support from their family, friends and community. They also share a love for arts and crafts which inspired their team name.
“Maya and I both have a passion for art, painting and crafts and Anya shows her creativity when it comes to events. So since we all have creative minds, we decided to incorporate that into the name of our team,” shares Naisha.
Together they met their goals through fundraising efforts including restaurant takeovers, raffles and reaching out to family and friends. They found motivation by experiencing firsthand how people felt about the cause they were working for. “My favorite part of the program was putting smiles on people’s faces when they learned what we were doing,” expresses Maya.
The team also drew inspiration from Naisha’s father, Dr. Piyush V. Patel, an oncologist. “Watching how he has given this community hope and seeing how many people he has helped inspired me to do the same,” says Naisha. Anya shared that Dr. Patel is “a huge inspiration to me as well through his impact on society through the medical field.”
Naisha, Anya and Maya gained more self-confidence and learned a lot along the way including how to speak to potential donors. “I talked to hundreds of strangers throughout the program, asking them for a minute of their time where I could have the opportunity to tell them about our team, cause and the campaign we were running. I would make it authentic, rather than just your typical elevator spiel,” explains Anya.
When asked what advice they may have for students looking to participate in the Student Visionaries of the Year program, all three of these remarkable young ladies share how important it is to stay committed to the cause. Though there were many challenges along the way, they were able to gain real-life experience and achieve their goals through perseverance.
A gala is held at the end of the Student Visionaries of the Year Campaign to recognize the efforts of each team and honor the Student Visionaries of the Year. There, the team was able to not only see the results of their hard work but also of everyone participating in the program. “I also loved attending the gala because not only did I see the result of our team’s dedication and hard work but also the other teams,” shares Naisha.
The 2023 Student Visionaries of the Year Ohio River Valley Region, which includes teams from Cincinnati, Dayton, Columbus and Northern Kentucky, raised a grand total of $415,003. To learn more about Student Visionaries of the Year and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, visit LLSStudentVisionaries.org.