Union student works with LLS to raise money to fight cancer

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SUMMIT, NJ — Abigail Han is on a personal mission to raise money and awareness to cure cancer. Han, a student at Oak Knoll School of the Holy Child and resident of Union, is a candidate for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Student Visionaries of the Year fundraising campaign. She is on a campaign to raise $25,000 as her goal for the organization. Her campaign started on Wednesday, Jan. 11, and will end on Saturday, March 4.

Han’s involvement in this fundraising campaign is very personal.
“My grandmother, Joanne Gunther, passed away from kidney cancer in 2014 when I was 5,” Han told LocalSource. “My grandfather also passed from lung cancer in 2006, and recently, a young boy in the community, Marciano Rosa, was diagnosed with leukemia. My campaign is dedicated to helping him and everyone affected by cancer.”

Han has been putting a lot of effort into raising money and was thankful for those who have supported her efforts along the way.
“I have weekly meetings with different contacts at LLS. We go over everything that’s going to happen for the week,” Han said. “I learned about different ways to fundraise, from personal asks to sending letters and emails, asking if people would be willing to help. I also approached businesses and scheduled proceed nights, where a percentage of your check would go toward LLS.”

Her involvement in fundraising toward a cure is connected to Han’s hope for a future career.

“I’m interested in medicine, I learned about three pillars of support from LLS: research, educational support and advocacy,” Han said. “I chose research, because that is what I am most interested in doing in the future.”

With her hopes set on college, Abigail has a few choices in mind.
“My brother’s school, Quinnipiac, has a really good medicine program,” Han said. “I am also interested in going to NYU. I also want to play sports in college, hopefully, softball. So, I hope that I can balance my time between pre-med and sports.”
Han credits her parents for helping her balance her advocacy work with school and being a teenager.

“My mom and dad are a huge help. They help me manage,” Han said. “Everyone on my team helps, but my parents know more people than I do. My mom told me this is a great idea and told me to go for it, so here I am.”

Oak Knoll School of the Holy Child is an independent Catholic school founded in 1924 by the Sisters of the Holy Child Jesus. From prekindergarten to grade six, the school teaches boys and girls, and from grades seven to 12, the school teaches only girls. Oak Knoll provides English and theocracy, world language, world and U.S. history, laboratory science, math and physical education courses. The school also welcomes a diverse student body, developing students who think critically, embrace knowledge, respond with moral and ethical integrity, and contribute to the lives of others. One hundred percent of graduates from Oak Knoll enter four-year colleges and universities.

Kathryn McGroarty, the headmaster of Oak Knoll School, spoke supportively of Han’s campaign, as well as the campaigns of other students at the school.

“Abigail’s mentor in the program is a senior, so I think it is a great way for the girls in this school to get to know each other better,” McGroarty told LocalSource. “This is a part of the community outreach work that girls at Oak Knoll have done for years. We have had prior students work with LLS, so moving forward next year, Abigail will be able to mentor someone else in the program and support fundraising efforts.”

McGroarty said students find these organizations to work with and engage in their communities.

“I love that this work is student driven. Many students reach out to these organizations and pitch these campaigns,” McGroarty said. “They are so passionate about their work. It is very exciting and amazing to see. None of this is required. It is all very organic and it comes from within.”

Han’s mother, Danielle Han, had nothing but praise for her daughter’s campaign.

“I love that Abigail is excited about this,” Danielle Han told LocalSource. “She has the help of her softball team and family.

“The fact that service is built into this is great. It’s important to remember where you came from.”

Photos Courtesy of Danielle Han