Emma Braten is a junior at Wilton High School. Junior year for any student is a pretty demanding one, with college entrance exam preparation and a difficult course load. 

But Emma has taken on another challenge, one that is much more emotional. She has entered a competition with three other high school students to raise the most money to benefit the Leukemia Lymphoma Society (LLS) and win the title of the Society’s “Student of the Year.” She’s doing this to honor the work that the LLS did on behalf of her mother, Maxine, who five years ago faced a much more difficult challenge herself—fighting leukemia. Now healthy, Maxine is Emma’s inspiration to raise money and help others.

The competition started on Feb. 4 (National Cancer Awareness Day) and it ends March 16. Emma’s goal is to raise $10,000, through an online appeal and emails, advertising in-kind donations, and bakesales. She’s pretty close to reaching her goal and would welcome any additional support from Wilton. To do so, visit her webpage.

Whether Emma wins the title of “Student of the Year” or it goes to one of the other three students, the real winners are the people, like Maxine, in the fights of their lives who will be helped by the money these students will raise to benefit everything LLS does. But don’t take it from us, take it from Emma, in her own words:

I have decided to take part in the “Student of the Year” Campaign for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society. It is a six-week fundraising competition between me and three other students. The student who raises the most money by the end of the six weeks is named Student of the Year. The competition begins, February 4, at midnight, and ends on March 16. My goal is to raise over $10,000! The money raised will go to the Leukemia Lymphoma Society to be used for research grants, financial aid to patients and drug development.

This cause is important to me because a little over five years ago, my mother was diagnosed with leukemia. For those of you who don’t know her, my mother is the most talented, quick-witted, kind-hearted person I know. When she was diagnosed, it was heart breaking for my entire family. She went through countless weeks of being weak and tired from the chemotherapy. It was difficult to see her as anything other than bright and spirited.

maxine braten 5 years ago

She was fortunate enough to find a perfect match for a bone marrow transplant. Some are not as lucky. Six months after she was diagnosed, she received a transplant that saved her life. After almost five more years of doctors’ appointments, transfusions and medication, we are lucky enough to say that she is cured of leukemia.

Maxine Braten from Patch

My family and I are extremely grateful to still have my mother with us today. We have to thank the Leukemia Lymphoma Society for helping my mother through the entire process. Financial aid for medical bills and medicines, and innovative, cutting-edge treatments are just a few of the ways the Leukemia Lymphoma Society supported my mother.

By participating in the “Student of the Year” Campaign, I am trying to help others in the same way the Leukemia Lymphoma Society helped my family.

maxine braten bake sale

It was devastating to see my mother go through cancer. The money we raise together will be put towards the Leukemia Lymphoma Society’s goal:  a world without blood cancers. Hopefully, all mothers, fathers, grandmothers, grandfathers, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts and friends will be able to live cancer-free lives. Any amount you can donate will bring me one step closer to making this goal happen today, not someday. I hope that together we can create a world free of blood cancers, and as my mother always says, “Be happy every day.”