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Finksburg teen drawn to competition and nonprofit

Finksburg resident Brooke Nixon, center, a freshman at Maryvale Preparatory School, has organized a Cure Crew to raise funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Her team includes, top row, Erin Coyne and Isabella Mawry, both of Westminster, and bottom row, Olivia du Bois, of Baltimore County, and Mary Grace Martz, of Anne Arundel County.
Finksburg resident Brooke Nixon, center, a freshman at Maryvale Preparatory School, has organized a Cure Crew to raise funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Her team includes, top row, Erin Coyne and Isabella Mawry, both of Westminster, and bottom row, Olivia du Bois, of Baltimore County, and Mary Grace Martz, of Anne Arundel County. (Staff photo by Mary K. Tilghman)

Finksburg resident Brooke Nixon has six weeks to raise $10,000 and she's rounded up a team of fellow Maryvale Preparatory School freshmen to help her do it.

The proceeds from their restaurant days at Chick-fil-A and Panera Bread, a swimathon and selling care packages to Maryvale students during exam week will go to a good cause.

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They're raising the money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Brooke learned of the fundraising efforts during a school assembly. Though she didn't know anyone with either of the blood diseases, she was intrigued by the Student of the Year competition and started organizing her own plan in October.

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"I wanted to do whatever I could to help the program," she said.

The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society chose 12 students from around the Baltimore region to participate in the fundraising efforts between Jan. 12 and Feb. 27.

As soon as she started, Brooke discovered she knows lots of people touched by the diseases.

"I was amazed at how common it is, and how it affects everyone," she said.

In fact, Brooke chose one of her team members, Mary Grace Martz, without knowing Mary Grace's mother had fought lymphoma.

"I really wanted to do it because my mom had lymphoma when I was 5," said Mary Grace, adding that her mother is now cancer-free. "It hit home."

The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society has held a similar philanthropy competitions for adults for 23 years. Last year, it raised $400,000, said Corinne Mayers, campaign manager for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Student of the Year competition.

This is the first time such a competition has been held on the high school level. In addition to the Nixon and her classmates at the all-girls Catholic school for grades six through 12 in Lutherville, there are representatives from Gilman School and Mercy High School in Baltimore and Parkville High School, along with students from Anne Arundel, Frederick, Harford, Howard and Queen Anne's counties.

Brooke's Cure Crew includes Olivia du Bois, as well as Westminster residents Erin Coyne and Isabella Mawry.

"All four of them were, 'Yes! I want to help,'" Brooke said.

For three months, they planned their activities. They approached businesses for support and organized a Tastefully Simple party for family and friends. Isabella got her swim club team involved in a swimathon.

Isabella, too, discovered she knew relatives who had had the disease when she got involved. "There are many ways people are affected," she said.

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"It's definitely amazing what these students are doing," said Mayers, who has met with the team on a regular basis to offer advice and collect the money they've raised so far.

Mayers figures the girls are already halfway to their goal. Both she and Brooke say they are confident they will reach the $10,000 goal.

The competition comes to an end with a fundraising gala Feb. 27.

"It's a celebration of all their success and their hard work," Mayers said.

For more information, go to lls.org/pages/md/soymaryland/bnixon.

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