Raise for a Cure

How do you raise $224,125 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society?

Not alone.

Team Foxes for a Cure, a fundraising team made up of Sidwell Friends students, recently competed in the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) Students of the Year campaign, a seven-week challenge to raise money to combat and cure blood cancer. Sofia Gaviria ’23 and Elson Bankoff ’23 were the team captains; their six-digit success placed them fourth out of 42 teams in the National Capital Area. (All of the area’s teams—including Team CUREsaders, which also included Sidwell Friends students—raised a combined $3.3 million, shattering both local and national records.)

“Even before the campaign started, we were talking about people who would be really good on our team,” Gaviria says. “We decided that we wanted to build up a team that was on the larger side to be able to raise more money, but we also wanted to ensure that everyone on the team was going to do a great job—which they did.”

The 16-member team raised the money a number of ways: They reached out personally to friends and families; they approached companies and sports leagues to ask for sponsorships and matching offers; and they even teamed up with a cycling instructor to offer a free Peloton-style workout class for donors. They did this until they reached their original goal of $60,000.

Then they upped the goal to $80,000.

They met that. So they upped it again.

“We’d meet the goal, and then go to another one and meet it, and then go for another one,” Bankoff says. “Our LLS mentor would say, ‘Oh, some people just get to their goal and stop,’ but that would never be an option for Sofia and me.”

Part of the push to keep going came from a surprising source—donors themselves, who sent support in amounts ranging from $5 to one $50,000 sponsorship.

“People would share their stores and really encourage us to keep going,” Bankoff says. “When you’re fundraising, you’re very in the heat of the moment—you’re just trying to get more towards the cause.” But those personal stories really showed the team how just how many people cancer really does affect.

“We could really see how we were touching people’s lives,” Gaviria agrees. “There were so many people who were telling us that they or someone close to them had had leukemia or lymphoma.” It was intensely motivating, and as the money ticked upward, it was exciting, too. “Every day, we would check the webpage again, and our team members would have raised another hundred dollars, or another thousand dollars,” she says. “When the final numbers were revealed, we were all just so happy.”

Neither Bankoff nor Gaviria had previous experience in fundraising, but both say this campaign won’t be their last.

“I got a lot out of it,” Bankoff says. “There’s the organization aspect, there’s the leadership aspect, there’s the community service aspect. If you have a charity that you want to support, people will support you. They really will! You just have to show the passion, the love, and the commitment for what you’re doing. Show how it’s affecting somebody, and people will not hesitate.”

“Also, people are just very energized by seeing young people doing good things in the world,” Gaviria says. “I got a couple of comments on my fundraising page saying things like, ‘It’s great to see high schoolers doing incredible things’ and ‘We need this next generation to really come in and change the world.’ The support factor was really big in keeping us going.”

And going, and going, and going … all the way to nearly a quarter of a million dollars raised for others.

The complete roster of Team Foxes for a Cure is:

·       Elson Bankoff (’23)

·       Sofia Gaviria (’23)

·       Ava Gregory (’23)

·       Ava Song (’24)

·       Ava Strong (’23)

·       Anya Capoor (’24)

·       Alix Nikolic de Jacinto (’24)

·       Alex Oswald (’22)

·       August Beaudreau (’23)

·       Billy Walsh (’23)

·       Maddie Mohamadi (’23)

·       Mackenzie Tyson (’23)

·       Nora Edleman (’23)

·       Sophie Valbrune (’23)

·       Will Koopersmith (’23)

·       Zoe Verma (’23)


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