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Teens teaming up to fight cancer

From Staff Reports Published: April 19, 2017 12:00 AM
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TWINSBURG -- A group of five Twinsburg teens are teaming up to raise money for the northern Ohio chapter of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, the world's largest voluntary health agency dedicated to finding a cure for blood cancers, such as leukemia, lymphoma and Hodgkin's disease.

Led by Twinsburg High School junior Tommy Kijauskas, "Team Twinsburg" also includes senior Alyssa Dennewitz and freshmen Kiara Durbin, Gabby Grams and Zahra Najafi. The project is personal for Alyssa, herself a cancer survivor, and Kiara, who lost her grandmother to leukemia.

"I was honored that the executive director of the local LLS chapter asked me to be a team captain," Kijauskas said. "We hope our many friends, family members and local Twinsburg businesses can help us raise funds to continue the research, treatment and therapies that have helped increase blood cancer survival rates over the years, giving people hope for a cure."

Donors can give to "Team Twinsburg" via http://events.lls.org/pages/noh/clevelandsoy2017/tkijauskas. People can also check with companies where they work to see if LLS qualifies for a matching gift. For example, the FirstEnergy Foundation will match dollar-for-dollar any contributions employees make to qualifying charitable organizations.

In addition, a special LLS "Team Twinsburg Dine & Donate" event is scheduled for April 23 at Burntwood Tavern in Solon. Kijauskas and other team members will be at the restaurant during the dinner hours, and flyers that can be presented that ensure 15 percent of sales goes to support LLS.

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As another fundraising activity the team will sell chocolate bars door-to-door in their neighborhoods, as well as at a booth at the Twinsburg Fine Arts Festival, set for April 26 at Twinsburg .

Kijauskas says that during a kickoff event fpr the campaign, he and Kiara had an opportunity to meet with Ryan Walther, a third-grade student from Rocky River, who had leukemia several years ago. Through the efforts of LLS, he is now healthy.

"Meeting Ryan was such an inspiration to me because he was visible proof in the form of a healthy, happy boy that LLS can make a difference in the lives of hundreds of families in northeast Ohio and around the country," said Kijauskas.

The captain of the teen team who raises the most money will be named LLS of Northern Ohio Student of the Year and earn a college scholarship, with the winner announced at an LLS gala April 28.

For additional information about LLS go to www.lls.org.

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