Palisadian Teen Helps Raise Funds for Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
By LILY TINOCO | Reporter
Palisadian Frances Abu Shanab is rallying for a cause after being nominated for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Students of the Year 2021 campaign.
The Students of the Year campaign is a leadership development program for high school students that teaches professional skills such as entrepreneurship and marketing while they raise funds for LLS. The society utilizes funds raised for cancer research and helps over 55,000 patients afford treatment, according to the organization’s website.
“Since LLS was founded in 1949, survival rates for many blood cancers have doubled, tripled and even quadrupled,” Abu Shanab said in a statement. “Forty percent of all new FDA-approved cancer therapies were developed to help cure blood cancer. These revolutionary approaches funded by LLS are developing effective treatments for breast and pancreatic cancers, rheumatoid arthritis, and even diabetes.”
Abu Shanab said LLS has helped save the lives of many, including her own.
“When I was 3 and a half [years old], I was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia,” the Highlands resident said to the Palisadian-Post. “I went through 26 months of treatment … LLS has been a part of our lives since I was diagnosed.”
Abu Shanab said her family would participate in LLS’ Light the Night, a fundraising walk to raise cancer awareness and money for research. They have been continually more involved.
Two years ago Abu Shanab was celebrated as the LLS Girl of the Year for the Man and Woman of the Year campaign, and just last year she was the LLS Honored Hero—she said these honorary experiences have inspired her to continue being a cancer advocate.
“I got to meet a lot of different people and families who have been affected by cancer, and all the people I met inspired me,” Abu Shanab said. “I got to see how much a childhood cancer diagnosis affects a family … and I got to see what … my family went through because I don’t remember a lot from when I was diagnosed since I was so young.
“I want to raise funds for families like mine who are going through the same thing that my family went through when I was diagnosed.”
Abu Shanab was nominated for the LLS Students of the Year campaign last June, and has since been responsible for forming and leading her fundraising team, The Mighty Shrimps.
She shared that the name comes from her love of shrimp while undergoing treatment.
“People would ask what to bring to the hospital, my parents would tell them to bring shrimp,” Abu Shanab said. “To this day I still love shrimp. When naming my team, we wanted to bring an aspect of my treatment and a silly memory from that time.”
She has 12 members on her team, from close friends to a network of individuals from different cities, including the Bay Area and New York, to broaden the scope of outreach.
“I know this is an extremely unusual time in our history where we are battling a pandemic, economic hardship and unresolved racial inequity in our country” Abu Shanab said in a statement. “This has affected LLS and the patients it supports. The unfortunate reality is cancer does not take time off. I hope you can join us in this effort so we can be the answer to curing cancer.”
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she said the team was unable to organize typical in-person fundraising events, so they had to get innovative.
She said The Mighty Shrimps have been able to raise funds through Charitybuzz, a company that raises funds for nonprofit organizations through online charity auction experiences.
She reported the team was able to organize an outdoor exercise class in collaboration with the Row House in Santa Monica “to raise money and get people to come row for a cause,” she said.
Abu Shanab said she has also worked on sponsorships with individuals in business and a pharmaceutical company that aims to create new treatments for cancer and tumors.
The Mighty Shrimps’ seven-week campaign ends on March 6 at 6 p.m., and the team is motivated to reach its $100,000 goal.
“I’ve had a great team who has been helping me a lot … it’s cool to see the funds come in and it’s amazing to see that this small group … is able to raise that much money.” Abu Shanab said to the Post. “It’s a surprise in the end, so we can’t reveal what we’ve raised, but we’re well on our way to our goal … which is super exciting.”
Abu Shanab, a sophomore at Pacifica Christian High School, said her efforts won’t end here or anytime soon.
“I have really enjoyed myself over these past few weeks, so I really hope in the future or in my career I’m able to help raise funds [and] support the fight to cure cancer,” she concluded.
For more information or to make a donation, visit events.lls.org/calso/lasoy21/fabushanab.
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