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State Honoree

Laura Schlesinger


Laura Schlesinger, 13, of St. Rita School in Alexandria, Virginia, raised the necessary funds and coordinated a bone marrow donor drive in her community to encourage awareness of the need for minority bone marrow donors. Laura's uncle, who was diagnosed with leukemia, was told that a bone marrow transplant was his only hope. While researching the illness, Laura realized that minorities in need of bone marrow transplants have little chance of finding a match since a very small percentage of minorities register with the National Bone Marrow Registry. Laura decided that a bone marrow donor drive held at an area church with a large Hispanic population might improve the chances for these people. She held yard sales, sold plants, and held a raffle to raise over $1,000 to support the marrow testing, and she secured a matching grant from the National Institutes of Health to supplement her initial donations. Nearly 100 people came out for the drive, and 38 Hispanic people were added to the National Registry.