Local teens soar to new heights to battle blood cancers

  • Charles County,St Mary's County,Calvert County
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(L) Samir Shah (R) Saar Shah

Hollywood, MD- Every three minutes in America, a person is diagnosed with a blood cancer. The most common forms of blood cancers are leukemia, lymphoma, myeloma and Hodgkin’s disease.

According to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS), blood cancers, on average, account for more than 10 percent of all new cancer cases diagnosed each year—and they’re the third leading cancer killer in the country.

In St. Mary’s County, it’s estimated that 500 people are battling a blood cancer. It might not seem like a lot for a county with more than 111,000 residents, but it’s higher than the national average.

LLS is the world’s largest voluntary health agency dedicated to blood cancer research. While there is no way to prevent blood cancers, LLS is dedicated to finding a cure—and it relies on donations to fund research projects.

Each year, LLS hosts a Student of the Year fundraising competition, designed for high school students to compete in raising the most money for LLS. Last year, Students of the Year candidates in Maryland raised $267,000.

For the first time ever, two students are competing from Southern Maryland.
Samir and Saar Shah are cousins who have had two family members who battled—and beat—blood cancers. Now they’re hoping to give back to help others win their battle against cancer.

Together, Samir and Saar have put together a team to help their fundraising campaign. Their goal—to raise $200,000 over seven weeks. ($100,000 in personal donations, $100,000 in corporate donations).

Samir is a student at Calverton School and Saar attends Great Mills High School. So far, they have a team of 20 students, including their student ambassador, Claire Broadhead, childhood Leukemia survivor, and student at Leonardtown High School.

This group of ambitious teens has organized Southern Maryland’s first Kite Festival where all proceeds will go to LLS. Fly4ACure will be held at the St. Mary’s County Fairgrounds March 17, beginning at noon—and is a proud sponsor.

In additional to kite flying fun, there will be a recognition ceremony for those in the Southern Maryland community who have been touched by blood cancers. You’ll also find food, entertainment, music and a special appearance Tampa Bay Buccaneer and Calvert County native, Robert McClain.

To learn more about the kite festival, visit Fly4ACure’s website.  

Visit Fly4ACure's Facebook page and Facebook event

Contact Joy Shrum at

Fact: Leukemia is the most common cancer among kids and teens.
Fact: In the 1960s, the five-year survival rate for childhood Leukemia was just 3 percent. Today, it’s nearly 90 percent.
Fact: Despite the declining deaths connected to childhood Leukemia, it is still the second leading cause of cancer death among people under the age of 20.
Fact: Approximately every nine minutes, someone in the United States dies from a blood cancer.

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