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State Honoree

Andrew Dunckelman

Louisiana

Andrew Dunckelman, 17, of Houma, La., a member of the Terrebonne Parish 4-H and a senior at Vandebilt Catholic High School, founded “Operation Cover-Up” to educate Americans about skin cancer and the risks of sun exposure. Three years ago, Andrew’s grandfather was diagnosed with skin cancer, which likely was caused by the many years he spent working in the sun as a sugarcane farmer, according to his doctor. Andrew then learned that two of his great-grandparents had died from the disease. Alarmed by the personal connections, he felt it was his mission to warn others about the hazards of direct exposure to the sun. Since most of an individual’s sun exposure occurs before age 18, Andrew decided to focus on children and their parents – particularly in low-income areas – providing both education and protective items. “Millions of parents are unable to give their children the provisions and knowledge necessary to guard against the sun,” said Andrew. He worked with local dermatologists to create an instructional brochure, created a website, and solicited $72,000 worth of donated sunscreen, glasses and hats. He distributed his message and materials through hospitals across the country, and through local elementary schools. To date, Andrew figures that he has directly reached 90,000 people with his message. Andrew also was Louisiana’s high school State Honoree in 2001.