Alyssa Ewell, 18, of Canton, Mich., a senior at Canton High School, was student coordinator of her school district’s Relay for Life last year, which raised $30,000 for the American Cancer Society. With her grandmother battling pancreatic cancer, Alyssa had a very personal reason to assume this leadership role when a teacher asked her to take the job. “She had seen my work last year raising $12,000 to grant a wish for a young girl through the Make-A-Wish Foundation,” said Alyssa. “She exhorted me to become a general in the war against cancer.”
After meeting with Michigan’s Relay for Life coordinator to set up a plan, Alyssa recruited students to help and began delegating tasks. She took steps to involve more than 20 schools in her school district, made flyers to get the word out to the community, assembled resource kits to help her leadership team of students coordinate activities during the event, and held an “advertising” day to pitch the project to potential donors and sponsors in the business community. In addition to running the actual relay walk, Alyssa and her team planned a “Spirit Week” at her school, trick-or-treating for little kids, a faculty “kiss the pig” fundraiser, a lip-sync competition, a cancer survivor walk, a raffle, and a luminaria ceremony. “While a considerable amount of money was raised, the most rewarding part of this experience was learning I could be a catalyst for action,” said Alyssa.