WATERBURY — Much of Western Connecticut will “turn red” next week in an effort to raise awareness of blood cancers and search for a cure by supporting the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Waterbury resident Katie Brown, 17, a senior at Sacred Heart High School, was diagnosed with leukemia at age 3 and underwent 2-1/2 years of chemotherapy. “Because of the research of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society,” she said, “I am alive today. As a result of my experiences, I’ve decided it’s my turn to give back.”
As a nominee for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Student of the Year, Katie has organized a series of events, mostly for the week of Valentine’s Day, to raise money for LLS.
“My campaign team and I have been meeting regularly to gear up for the competition,” she said. “My goal is to raise $15,000 — $1,000 for every year I’ve been cured.”
Katie kicked off her campaign on February 1 with a sold-out event at Daveluy’s Restaurant in Watertown that included food, raffles and live music.
A city-wide “red-out” has been declared in Waterbury for Thursday, February 13, where in exchange for a donation, residents are invited to wear red to show their support for those with blood cancers.
On Presidents Day, Monday, February 17, the Charcoal Chef, 670 Main St. North in Woodbury, will donate 10 percent of all sales from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. to the cause. There will be raffle items as well.
Three Watertown High School basketball games will be red-out events, including home games vs. Oxford on Thursday, February 13 (JV at 5:15 p.m. and varsity at 7), and a girls’ home game vs. Crosby at 6 p.m. Tuesday, February 18.
Another red-out match-up, the Watertown-Pomperaug co-op ice hockey team vs. the Eastern CT Eagles, is set for 7:30 p.m. Saturday, February 15, at the Taft School rink in Watertown.
“These games are asking students to attend and wear red and a jar will be passed around for donations at each game,” said Katie. “Watertown will also be having a dress down day where the students wear red to school, but that date has not been established yet.”
All schools in Region 14, including Bethlehem and Mitchell Elementary Schools, Woodbury Middle School and Nonnewaug High School, will celebrate a region-wide, red-out day on Valentine’s Day, Friday, February 14.
Nonnewaug High School is going all out that day for the campaign, with a collection in the cafeteria and the school’s sports teams competing against each other to raise funds.
Nonnewaug’s Spirit Club is sponsoring a contest in which classes compete to raise the most funds for LLS. The competition will be part of the school’s pep rally at the end of the day.
That evening, the Nonnewaug vs. Shepaug basketball games at Shepaug, both boys’ and girls’ teams, will be red-out games.
Sacred Heart vs. Holy Cross girls’ and boys’ basketball games on February 13, both hosted at Sacred Heart, will be red-out games as well.
Torrington High School’s marketing class is hosting a red-out on February 14 and Terryville High School has planned a red-out dodgeball tournament for February 26.
The campaign has spread as far as West Hartford, where St. Brigid-St. Augustine Partnership School will also be joining the effort.
Plans are underway for a casino trip on March 7.
Katie’s campaign will continue through March 19.
According to LLS, the Student of the Year campaign is a philanthropic leadership development program through which highly motivated high school leaders embark on a journey of professional growth, ensuring that they stand out when preparing for college and beyond.
During the program, students use professional skills such as entrepreneurship, marketing and project management in order to raise funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
Student leaders fundraise for LLS in honor of children who are blood cancer survivors. The title Student(s) of the Year is awarded to the student or student group in each community who raises the most funds during the seven-week competition.
A grand finale brings together sponsors, candidates, campaign teams, friends, family, survivors and other LLS supporters for the announcement of the Student(s) of the Year. The evening will include dinner, dancing, music and silent and live auctions.
Katie is mounting her campaign with the help of a multi-generational team that includes students from a number of area schools. She has posted a video about her campaign on her Facebook page, “Katie’s Quest for a Cure.”
In the video, Katie invites local residents to join her in raising money for LLS by scheduling red-out days at their school or place of business.
“I need your help to not only reach my goal, but to further the research of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society,” she said, “because beating cancer is in our blood.”
Katie’s fundraising page can be found at https://events.lls.org/ctwhv/havensoy20/kbrown. A link can also be found on her Facebook page.
Those wishing to donate by check may write Katie’s Quest for a Cure in the memo line and mail it to Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, 3 Landmark Square, Stamford 06901.
All donations are tax-deductible.
Katie’s mom, Tricia Brown, teaches math at Nonnewaug High School. Schools wishing to donate or become involved in the campaign may email Tricia at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Those seeking additional information may email Katie at email@example.com.