SM West junior Olivia Neely raising funds for Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

SM West junior Olivia Neely is raising funds for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's 2020 Students of the Year program. She's already halfway to her goal of $15,000.

SM West junior Olivia Neely has embarked on a fundraising campaign for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s 2020 Students of the Year program.

Neely was recently nominated to be the society’s Student of the Year. As a nominee for the honor, she is shooting for a goal of raising $15,000 for the society. She’s already more than halfway to her goal, and she credits her team, which she called Power2Hope, for getting her this far.

“I’m really involved in school and everything; I do lots of activities, I’m in cheer, pep club, STUCO, all that, but it’s different than all those things,” Neely said. “It seems like you’re helping something bigger.”

The seven-week campaign is designed to empower students like Neely to develop skills like leadership and event organization. The nominee who raises the most money is named Student of the Year. Plus, all funds raised during her campaign benefit cancer patients and enable lifesaving research and treatment.

Specifically, a $15,000 donation helps fund an educational video that provides information and support to blood cancer patients and caregivers, according to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Neely said she accepted the nomination because she wanted to challenge herself and help people.

“I’m not really worried about trying to win it all,” Neely said. “I’m just trying to reach my goal and accomplish it for myself.”

She’s also surrounded herself with a dozen teammates comprised of family, friends, teachers and classmates. She’s already thinking about nominating one of her teammates for the campaign next year: Another student at SM West who has contributed a significant amount to her team.

Her mother, Susanne Neely, said her daughter has met “amazing people” during the campaign, including a mother with three children and a 2-year-old who are beating cancer because of the contributions from people like Olivia Neely.

“It’s a really neat opportunity; while she’s helping people, she’s also growing her leadership skills,” Susanne said. “Just watching how she motives her team — she inspires them. And that’s all part of it, trying to get them excited about the goal, what we’re doing and why. It’s really been neat to watch that.”

Neely’s campaign ends April 2.