What does it mean to be a visionary?

2023 Student Visionaries of the Year candidates at the Grand Finale Fundraiser in April. The teens raised more than 400,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Leesville students, Madeline Carpenter and Sophie Key were two of the fourteen candidates from the triangle last year. (Photo used by permission of Cammie Key)

Three Leesville students have been nominated for the 2024 Leukemia and Lymphoma Society  Triangle Student Visionaries of the Year Campaign.

People often anticipate that high school students are busy juggling various extracurriculars alongside their rigorous class load. Whether it be sports, arts, or a part-time job, students constantly engage in activities that enrich their education.

Nonetheless, some LRHS students are elevating their after-school activities by doing something a little different. They have committed to a worthy cause, to make an impact beyond the classroom. 

What is SVOY

The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s annual Student Visionaries of the Year Campaign (SVOY) is a seven-week fundraiser each year in every state. 

High School students across the country compete for the title of Student Visionary of the Year. The campaign is a competition, but it can be so much more than that. It is a way for high school students to learn valuable soft skills and feel what it’s like to make a difference in the community.

Candidates are responsible for leading a team of peers and adults, using their network to reach out to potential sponsors, and planning fundraising events. Students are allowed to step into the business world with the guidance of professionals, giving them a leg up when it comes time for them to be professionals. 

Jamie Harper, Campaign Development Manager for Triangle Student Visionaries of the Year, said, “After I started working specifically on the Student Visionaries Campaign, I realized how much I enjoyed working with high school students and their families to help them experience something so meaningful. It’s awesome to see how much the students grow in this campaign and what an incredible impact they make.”

Harper manages candidate teams in the triangle, plans workshops, and corresponds with Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) staff and volunteers. 

The Student Visionaries of the Year Campaign proudly fosters the next generation of influential leaders and helps fund the long-standing battle against cancer.

The Mission

The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society was born out of a family’s grief after losing their son to Leukemia in 1944.  What started in a small Wall Street office, with minimal funding and a handful of volunteers has become one of the largest and most successful nonprofit organizations in the country. 

The non-profit is organized into different pillars based on the mission and each candidate decides which pillar to focus on throughout their campaign. These pillars -research, patient care, and advocacy- are the focus of every donation LLS receives.  

The mission of LLS is to cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease, and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families. Some of Leesville’s own are dedicated to making that future a reality.

Leesville’s Young Visionaries 

Leesville has three devoted students participating in the 2024 Student Visionaries of the Year Campaign this year — Lucas Casterline, Elena Wragge, and Emma Brock.

These three students were all nominated by previous Leesville visionaries who had embarked on the same journey only a few years prior.  

Casterline, freshman, said, “To be a Student Visionary makes me feel much more determined, confident, and persistent in the way I handle things and present myself to others.” 

Casterline has been hard at work since before the campaign kickoff in February preparing for these seven weeks. Just last week he hosted the biggest fundraiser of his campaign, a benefit concert.  

He was able to get the band, Weekend Excursion, to perform at the Rialto in Downtown Raleigh. The Rialto generously donated the space for the benefit, and Casterline learned valuable lessons on communication, leadership, and organization throughout this benefit while supporting a worthy cause. 

Casterline, said, “We sold over 200 presale tickets and had a turn-out of over 300 people, which was amazing, and I am still in disbelief! Weekend Excursion put on an amazing show, and I am so grateful for all of their help and support!”

Elena Wragge and Emma Brock were nominated by another LRHS senior, Lauren Maclamore, a SVOY candidate in 2020. She was able to raise 44,000 dollars during her campaign and is still volunteering for LLS as part of the junior leadership team.

Brock, senior, said, “The campaign itself is so important and affected so many people’s lives in tremendous ways, so l was immediately interested in helping the cause as much as possible once I was presented with the opportunity to do so through being nominated as a student visionary of the year.”

Brock and Wragge are co-campaigning together and have found the experience very gratifying. They are excited to see the impact they can make moving forward. 

These students are learning so much and touching so many hearts in only seven weeks. If you want to support Leesville’s up-and-coming visionaries visit the LLS SVOY website today and make a contribution!


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