Sanford Student Sets Fundraising Record for LLS

Leukemia & Lymphoma Delaware Student of the Year 2018 Candidates raised more than $200,000 for cancer research. This year’s winner, Grace Johnston, is wearing the red dress.

Each year, high school students across the state embark on a fundraising campaign on behalf of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS), putting significant personal effort into the mission.  The growing totals raised underline the students’ commitment and success in this important initiative.

For 2018, one student has brought the fundraising to a whole new level: Sanford School’s Grace Johnston, winner of the 2018 (LLS) Student of the Year campaign.   Johnston earned the distinction of raising the most funds ever for the LLS Delaware student campaign, bringing in $62,000 over the seven weeks campaign.

Johnston raised the funds with a variety of creative, personally-inspired fundraisers, including a waffle breakfast at her school, a taco night at La Tonalteca, a hot yoga session at the HAC, and a “red-out” at one of Sanford’s basketball games, where the high school junior sold LLS bracelets and t-shirts.

 “Grace was diligent, strategic and she really planned her campaign well,” said Brook Rowe, executive director of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Delaware Chapter.  “She made personal asks, she pounded the pavement, and raised that money dollar by dollar.”

And at every event Johnston promoted the mission and the programs offered by LLS Delaware. “Grace was invested in raising awareness for the cause. She was really in this to help others and was very committed to that,” said Rowe.

Team Wilmington Friends – with Lisa Dobber and Grant Sheppard – was a runner up in the LLS fundraising competition

The leadership development and fundraising initiative highlighted seven local candidate teams comprised of high school students who fundraised on behalf of the organization. The next highest fundraising teams — Brett Wilkinson and Nate Ruoss of The Tatnall School in Wilmington (runners up), and Grant Sheppard and Lisa Dobber of Wilmington Friends, were also recognized for theor outstanding fundraising efforts.

Citizenship awards were presented to Rebecca DeHeer of Archmere Academy, Kirit and Jasmine Minhas of Tower Hill School and Kelsey Higgins of Appoquinimink High School.

Collectively, the seven candidate teams raised $203,000 to support LLS research and education and patient services for blood cancer patients. 

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is the world’s largest voluntary health agency dedicated to blood cancer whose mission is to cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families.

LLS Student of the Year First Runners Up Nate Ruoss and Brett Wilkinson of “Team The Tatnall School”

Rhonda Bowman photography

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About the Contributor

Christy Fleming

Christy Fleming

The managing editor of, Christy Fleming also supports a variety of non-profit initiatives in Delaware. Her background includes positions in public relations, advertising and journalism.