Posted by Samantha Burns on Mar 02, 2021
I was diagnosed with T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia when I was seven years old. My mom noticed strange bruising on my legs, one day after summer camp in 2011. She had mother’s intuition that something was wrong and did some research. What she read pointed to leukemia. After a quick blood draw from me, my doctor pulled her aside and said, “You’re right, I’m so sorry.” I had to be immediately hospitalized.
That was the day I started my painfully long journey of frightening radiation, life-threatening surgeries, sickening chemotherapy, unstoppable infections, and endless support. Although I was filled with lots of pain and tears, my journey also consisted of lots of smiles, courage, and love. Through my journey, I learned so much, including the power of helping others. In the hospital around Christmas time, when my family and friends would bring in presents, I had the same recurring thought: “What about all of the other kids?”
(Samantha Burns is shown, above, along with her mother).
There were so many kids in the inpatient cancer ward, and families in the hospital that weren’t fortunate enough to be able to support their kids, let alone bring them presents. I felt the urgent need to do something, so I started a Teddy Bear Drive, which I continued every year around Christmas, bringing in stuffed animals for those children who don’t get much on Christmas.
But I wanted to do more. That’s when I heard about the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  LLS leads a walk every year that helps to raise money to support families with the struggles facing them as their child suffered. I have been walking for nine years, including when I was in the hospital. My first year was from a stroller because I unable to complete the walk physically. So many of you have been such a tremendous support for me over the years, and I can’t thank you enough.
This year, I decided to take on a more personal campaign, Students of the Year,  a seven-week fundraising competition to raise as much money as possible for LLS and patients’ families. Since January 29 my team and I have been working to raise $100,000 by this March 20.
Not only am I reaching out to family and friends, but also to influential business leaders. You are so inspiring to me, and I’d love to talk more with you! I’d love the opportunity to schedule a meeting with you to share my story and how your company can partner with LLS!
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask me!
Thanks for your time!
For more information, contact Samantha Burns, a junior at Weston High School and a member of the school's Interact Committee, by clicking here.
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