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State Honoree

Photo of State Honoree Renaya Demarest

Renaya Demarest

New Mexico

Renaya Demarest, 18, of Edgewood, N.M., a senior at East Mountain High School, organized a series of basketball games at her high school to raise money and awareness for cancer research. Renaya was watching the American Cancer Societys 2013 Coaches vs. Cancer (CvC) mens basketball tournament when it occurred to her that her high school could hold its own version of the fundraiser to fight cancer. My desire to host our own CvC games was ignited by my love of basketball and something even deeper my dearest grandmother was a victim of cancer in 2011, said Renaya. But there was an obstacle: typically colleges, not high schools, hosted CvC games, and no high school in New Mexico had ever been involved.

Renaya did not let that stop her. First, she emailed the American Cancer Society with her idea and got approval. Then, as student body president, she asked her student council to help her plan three basketball games, including an alumni vs. staff game and a game against her schools main sports rival. Renaya and her fellow volunteers went to local businesses to solicit donations and sponsorships, sold tickets to the games, and organized halftime ceremonies that honored three local cancer survivors, who were presented with basketballs signed by the teams. To date, Renayas games have raised nearly $3,000 for the American Cancer Society and prompted many of her fellow students to participate with her in the cancer societys Relay for Life