PMHS juniors D’Angelo, Altschiller raising funds for LLS through student of year competition


Editor’s note: This press release was provided by team EZ Does It for LLS.

Meet Edward (Teddy) D’Angelo and Zach Altschiller, Juniors at Pelham Memorial High School.  They, with their team EZ Does It for LLS, are raising money for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) through the Student of the Year competition.  The Student of the Year is a philanthropic leadership development program for exemplary high school students. Each year, candidates form teams made up of friends, family, and colleagues to compete in their region for the title of Students of the Year. Colleen McDonald and Lauren Holley, also PMHS juniors, are competing as well.  Funds raised support the LLS mission: to find a cure for leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease, and myeloma, and to improve the quality of life of patients and their families.

Pelham has a long connection to the LLS. organization.  In 2013, Pelham resident and leukemia survivor, Joseph Solimine, Sr. raised over $143,000 for LLS and got over 600 people registered on the bone marrow registry.  He received Man of the Year honors for his efforts.  Dan Carlton, former Pelham resident, spent over 9 years on the LLS Westchester board of directors, served as the Corporate Walk Chair for Light the Night, founded the Youth Board, sponsored several Student and Man/Woman of the Year, and Team in Training for the NYC Marathon.  Over his years of service, he raised in excess of $1 million for LLS. Karen White, another blood cancer survivor and 6 year-Pelham resident, competed for Woman of the Year 2020.

Altschiller and D’Angelo were nominated for program by PMHS senior, Sophia Shulzhenko, who currently serves on the leadership team for SOY Westchester. “I participated in the Student of the Year Program because my mom was diagnosed with lymphoma when I was two years old. Her sickness heavily impacted my family and I wanted to help prevent others from having those experiences. During the campaign, it felt amazing to be a part of such a great cause and it was easily the best experience I’ve ever had,” Shulzhenko exclaimed. She and her good friend Margot Wies were runners up for Students of the Year in 2019.  “I participated in the SOY campaign because I wanted to make a positive impact on those suffering from blood cancers.  Being the first Pelham team, it really influenced my decision to participate. It meant that I could inspire other teens to follow.  As a result, I have a lot more confidence as I get ready to go off to college in the Fall.”  Ava Pedorella and Mattie Johnson, both juniors at PMHS, competed for the honors last year.

For seven weeks, Altschiller and D’Angelo are raising awareness of the research, programs, and advocacy being conducted through LLS, in addition to raising funds to support their mission to cure blood cancer.  They have taken this initiative because they both have had family members who have had cancer, several who have succumbed to it.   While most did not have a type of blood cancer, the research and development for blood cancers has been used to help treat many other kinds of cancer as well.

“A lot of people in my family have been affected by cancer, so I want to help people that have been affected like them,” Altschiller commented about why he wanted to take on this challenge

Devon O’Toole, Campaign Development Manager for the CT-Westchester-Hudson Valley region of The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society noted, “We are very lucky that these boys have agreed to keep the Pelham tradition of support of LLS going!”

EZ Does It for LLS is raising money in honor of Westchester tween, William.  William was only 5 years old when he and his family received the dreaded news that he had a rare blood cancer.  Thanks to the research efforts of the Leukemia and Lymphoma society, and the support they gave to his family, William is in remission.  The now 12 year old loves to play and watch baseball.  He’ll be rooting again for his favorite team, the New York Yankees, this season.

LLS’ continued advancements over the years, are responsible for the blood cancer survival rate doubling and tripling; in some cases, the survival rate has even quadrupled.  Many LLS supported therapies not only help blood cancer patients, but are also now used to treat patients with rare forms of stomach and skin cancers and are in clinical trials for patients with lung, brain, breast, pancreatic and prostate cancers. And LLS funded drugs like targeted therapies and immunotherapies are now saving thousands of lives every day.

“I know people have been focused on Covid-19 for the past year, but people are still suffering from blood cancers.  LLS is not wavering in their support of all of these people. We aren’t either,” D’Angelo concluded on why he is raising funds this year.

This year’s campaign ends March 11, but the fight will continue.

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