WEST WARWICK — Ethan Aggor is on a mission to raise dollars for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and to make a difference in the lives of those affected by blood cancer.
A sophomore at West Warwick High School, Aggor is a candidate in the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s 2020 Student of the Year campaign.
“Just, in itself, I think it’s a wonderful campaign,” said Aggor, who applied to be a candidate in the fundraising competition after hearing about the opportunity from a representative of the global nonprofit. “I think that anybody who can get involved should be involved.”
Created to help participants foster valuable professional skills while they fight for a cause, the Student of the Year program invites teams to compete over a seven-week period to raise funds for blood cancer research.
It’s a cause that Aggor hopes others feel just as drawn to as he does.
“I feel like people don’t get enough of a chance to donate to such a good cause,” he added. “And [donating to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society] is something I think really everybody should be doing, across the state and the nation.”
There are currently 1.2 million people in the United States either living with or in remission from blood cancer, according to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. The organization over the last seven decades has poured nearly $1.3 billion into cancer research, and since its founding the survival rates of blood cancer patients have skyrocketed.
In addition to raising funds, however, Aggor said he’s also hoping through the campaign to bring awareness to childhood blood cancers and to the harsh effects cancer treatments can have on young patients.
Aggor has set a goal to raise $20,000, and has compiled an intergenerational team of like-minded friends and teachers to help bring that goal to fruition.
“They’re all really hard working, and are really team players,” Aggor said of the members of his team, dubbed Blood, Sweat and Cures.
With Aggor at its helm, Blood, Sweat and Cures is one of 13 in the running within the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Rhode Island chapter. The captain or co-captains of the team that collects the most money by March 21 will be named the state’s Student of the Year.
The teams are raising funds in honor of Caitlynn Zinni, a 17-year-old resident of Johnston now in her 11th year of remission from Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.
But while Zinni is the official “honored hero” of the Rhode Island campaign, Aggor is fighting for a couple of his own patient heroes, as well. One is a close family friend who last April was diagnosed with leukemia, Aggor said, and the other is his financial literacy teacher, Matthew Gama, who is currently in remission after being diagnosed with the disease in 2018.
“Those are the two people that I have in mind,” Aggor said.
The Student of the Year campaign officially kicked off last week, and Aggor and his team have hit the ground running.
“I’d say so far it’s going pretty well,” he said. “I really hope the momentum can continue rolling.”
Over the coming weeks, Blood, Sweat and Cures will host a series of fundraising events to help meet its ambitious goal.
Next Wednesday, Aggor and his team will host a Funny4Funds comedy night fundraiser at the Olde Theater Diner in Coventry. And for the following Sunday, the team is planning a networking event featuring Aggor’s jazz combo to be held at the Elks Lodge.
The Funny4Funds comedy night fundraiser will take place Wednesday, Feb. 19 from 7 to 9 p.m. With a $25 donation, donors will be treated to a pasta dinner and a show.
To read more about Aggor’s Student of the Year campaign, to purchase tickets for the comedy fundraiser or to make a donation, visit events.lls.org/neri/newportsoy20/eaggor.
“I’d say the main takeaway is to just share awareness,” Aggor said of the campaign. “Even if you can’t make a donation, I think sharing it is the best thing you can do.”