BY KRISTI FISH | MIRROR REPORTER — Four students in the Penta-Maumee DECA program for career education recently took first place in the Social Impact Leader challenge from the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation (NPCF) and DECA Inc.
The corporate challenge requires DECA members to create a fundraising campaign for NPCF and raise awareness about pediatric cancer along the way.
The four students who made up the team, Evelynn Schneider, Peyton Horak, Disha Patel and Courtney Crawford, have been working on the challenge since April 2022 with the help of several others, hoping to make a difference for anyone affected by pediatric cancer.
“I was really inspired to do the challenge because my little brother Jackson was diagnosed with stage three Burkitt lymphoma when he was 2, and pediatric cancer has always been one of the things I’ve always wanted to help (raise awareness for),” Schneider said.
To fundraise, the students wanted to grab the attention of their fellow high schoolers along with as many people in the community as possible, so they chose to tailor events around several different interests.
Despite some minor roadblocks, the team was able to collect funds at several different events, including a tailgate, football game, trunk-or-treat, Zumbathon and the annual Harvest for Hunger fundraiser.
“I feel like having a variety of events made it so people would remember us and it had a lasting impact throughout the year,” Patel said.
By reaching out to the media and creating carefully thought-out social media posts, the high schoolers were also able tdo grab the attention of thousands of people, directing them to fundraising events and a donation link.
In total, just over $5,600 was raised by the DECA students, surpassing their $4,300 goal.
“We set it because one of the big statistics NPCF puts out is that every day, 43 children are diagnosed with pediatric cancer, so we wanted to keep that number in people’s minds through our fundraising goal,” Schneider explained.
The DECA members then created a presentation for the contest’s judges. The presentation explained the steps the students took to raise awareness and encourage people to donate to the cause.
Lindsey Oliver, development manager at NPCF, told the students their hard work was apparent to the judges who appreciated the team’s variety of events and passion for the cause before announcing their first-place finish among more than 30 other teams.
“We get plaques with our names on it and a $2,000 travel stipend to go to Orlando (for the DECA International Career Development Conference),” Horak said about their win.
Even without the win, the team was happy just to raise awareness and funds for pediatric cancer, Crawford said.
“Bringing the community together to support pediatric cancer research was really big,” Patel said.
“Seeing the difference that we could make as a team all working together and putting all of our strengths together to be able to come up with this campaign and be able to use these skills that we learned … was my biggest takeaway,” Crawford added.
The four students were also eager to ackowledge the people who helped them reach out to Maumee residents.
The entire chapter helped, the team said, but two students in particular – Sam Archambeau and Avery Lewis – were vital in lending a hand, Horak said.
“They helped us a lot,” Horak credited. “We could not have done it without them.”
Crawford, Horak and Lewis have also worked together on a business solutions project, and Schneider, Patel and Archambeau are working together on a community giving project.
The work from both projects overlaps with the work done on the challenge, so the helping hands of Archambeau and Lewis was necessary for the first-place victory, the team said.
Their teacher, Robin Bruderly, was able to provide guidance and insight, too, they noted.
Bruderly said she was impressed with the students’ dedication and was excited to see what they did for NPCF and the community.
“We couldn’t have done it without everybody’s help, honestly,” Patel noted.
In honor of their first-place spot, the team will go to the DECA International Career Development Con-ference, or ICDC, in Orlando, Fla., on April 22-25 to be recognized.
Future Penta-Maumee DECA events, fundraisers and projects are announced on the MaumeeDECA Twitter account and the Penta-Maumee DECA Facebook page.