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2,003 in 2003 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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Wouldn't it be great to find a cure for cancer? Let me tell you how I plan to help accomplish that: I have created my own fund-raiser in support of the American Cancer Society called ornaments4cure. My team and I have set a goal to sell 2,003 ornaments this year that will raise $20,000!

I have also participated for six years in the largest overnight event called Relay for Life. It is a fun-filled night with all proceeds benefitting the American Cancer Society. It consists of teams that pick individual themes and raise money all night long. But it was not until I lost my two grandfathers to cancer that my priorities changed and I decided to step up my involvement, becoming my county's youngest team captain at the age of ten. In the years since, we have collected over $31,000 and the total is climbing daily.

My team has grown from ten members to 26. We have had themes at Relay like "Clowning Around for a Cure," "Scaring Away Cancer," "Putting a Shade on Cancer," and "Kissing Cancer Good-bye." We hold five fund-raisers a year, which have included cake walks, face-painting, yard sales, car washes, selling yard signs, lock-ins and dances.

We feel this year's ornaments4cure will be our biggest and best fund-raiser yet. When my mom and I were at a Cirque Du Soleil performance, we bought some souvenirs. I picked a beautiful glass ornament with patches of clothing from costumes. I said, "Wouldn't it be great if Relay had a Christmas ornament to sell?" We stood there, knowing what the other was thinking: That's it! Relay for Life Christmas ornaments!

So we started our project: decorating clear ornaments with iridescent tinsel stuffed inside that are personalized with the recipient's name and the Relay for Life logo. Brian, who volunteers in honor of his mom, created the logo for our ornaments. We even created a web page (ornaments4cure.org) to advertise the ornaments. You can go there and help our cause by ordering one (or more).

Our campaign is really taking off. We had t-shirts printed that we wear as advertisement. It's amazing how many people stop me in the mall or in restaurants when I wear my shirt that says Team Captain!

Some of the ornaments will be used for our "Joy of Giving" program. Our team members will visit pediatric hospitals and cancer patients. We will deliver ornaments to adult patients, and hold craft classes for young cancer patients so they can make and decorate their own ornaments. This will bring lasting memories for the hospital workers, and their patients.

One volunteer's grandmother has even made "I'M SO BRAVE!" capes that we will leave at the hospitals for the kids to wear when they are scared about their next treatment. I think there will be nothing like putting on a big cape to give them a feeling of security. The inside of the capes is a light-colored material so whoever wears it can then autograph it!

My team members, who have worked so hard on this project, range from seventh to eleventh graders. Each member brings a different talent. Alie is known for her unique yard sale items; Tiffany brings her beautiful smile and awesome personality to everything she does. Dave is our top recipe book salesperson; Grayson is our co-captain and is always there when I am in need ... there are so many others, and all are vital to the project.

At our team meetings, we stuff the ornaments with tinsel and tie the bows, and then prepare the boxes for shipping. My mom takes care of the money to make sure all ornaments are paid for. All the team members help personalizing the ornaments in gold.

In our first week, over 100 ornaments were sold! We are confident we can sell 2,003 in time for the holidays. Don't forget, you can purchase them at ornaments4cure.org. We may be only 13-16 years old, but our hearts are in the right place. Each of us puts in over 100 hours a year of community service, and we enjoy every second of it. Every dollar brings us closer to a cure!

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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