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State Honoree

Megan Doherty

Illinois

raised more than $56,000 to bring 29 young cancer victims of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster in the Ukraine to her town for life-saving medical treatment and dental care that were not available to them in their country. Inspired by a speech at her school by the executive director of “Camps for Children of Chernobyl,” Megan asked her parents if they could be a host family for one child. They agreed, but then she learned that the children had to travel in groups of 10 or more to hold down costs. So Megan set out to find enough host families and raise enough money to bring an entire group to Lemont. She made presentations to civic organizations and church groups, solicited donations through newspaper articles, flyers and phone calls, and organized a variety of fund-raising projects. Megan was so successful that she was able to bring 13 cancer-stricken children to Lemont in the summer of 1998 and 16 in 1999, all of whom received state-of-the-art medical care during their five weeks in the United States. “Friendships were bonded that literally reach across the ocean,” said Megan. As her new friends were boarding the plane to return home, one of their chaperones confided to Megan, “The children have changed; they are smiling again.” Megan is planning to bring another 16 Ukrainian children to Lemont this summer.