Sisters Hannah and Meghan Kostka of Oxford coordinated the 2021 “Red Out” at their school in Woodbury on Friday. They are candidate’s in this year’s LLS Student of the Year campaign, having taken over from last year’s candidate, Katie Brown of Waterbury, a leukemia survivor and daughter of Nonnewaug teacher Tricia Brown.
Math teacher Tricia Brown, center, joins sisters Hannah, left, and Meghan Kostka at Fridays red-out event at Nonnewaug High School in Woodbury to raise awareness for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Browns daughter, Katie, a freshman at UConn, began the event at the school last year and the Kostka sisters are now carrying on the tradition of raising funds for the cancer society. Steve Bigham Republican-American
The Student of the Year program runs from January to March to raise money and awareness for blood cancers and all that the LLS does to fund research and support families who are fighting blood cancers.
Friday’s Red Out reached into the other Region 14 schools, and Woodbury First Selectman Barbara K. Perkinson declared a townwide Red Out, encouraging town employees and residents to wear red.
“The goal is to get the community together again, to support a good cause, and unite people through wearing red,” said Hannah, 16, a junior at Nonnewaug.
She and Meghan, a 17-year-old senior, said the LLS “is a fantastic organization. They financially support families battling blood cancer and fund research for blood cancers and other cancers, too.”
Nonnewaug High School sophomores, from left, Sophie Pape, Lauren Pabst and Samantha Conte, take part in a scavenger hunt at the school in Woodbury on Friday. Steve Bigham Republican-American
The girls are raising money during the seven-week campaign, which runs from Jan. 21 to March 10. The top fundraiser will earn the title of the LLS Student of the Year. Their goal is to raise $10,000.
At their school, they have coordinated a competition among grades where every dollar donated buys a link in a chain, and the grade with the longest chain wins. So far the juniors are leading, according to organizers.
There was also a schoolwide scavenger hunt Friday where students hurriedly searched for various puzzle pieces that, when put together, formed a “Beat Cancer” picture.
Principal Pam Saudi said the scavenger hunt was an ideal social distancing event that brought good times back to the hallways there.
Taking first place at the scavenger hunt was William Pease’s seventh-period physics class, followed by teacher Jeremy Heygel’s seventh-period Social Studies class and Ryan Campanero’s physical education class.
“We’re just so happy to be able to do this today. Everyone wore red for our red-out and the scavenger hunt was a lot of fun, while raising awareness at the same time,” Hannah Kostka said.
Brown credited the Kostka sisters and their 11-member team for their efforts in trying to reach their goal while competing against 10 other Connecticut teams.
Nonnewaug High School Dean of Students and Athletic Director Declan Curtin went all out for Fridays Red-Out event...even with his shoes. Steve Bigham Republican-American
The sisters said they are continuing Katie’s legacy, who raised $37,000 last year for the society, $2,000 of which was from Nonnewaug.
The girls said they got involved with the campaign last year through Brown, thinking they were raising money for a good cause. They said the more they learned about the LLS, the more they realized how frequently leukemia and blood cancers affect so many people.
“We didn’t realize we had an aunt who died of leukemia, and the LLS reps say so many people don’t realize how many people they may know who have been affected by blood cancers,” Hannah Kostka said.
For information on the LLS and ways to donate to Hannah and Meghan’s campaign, find them on social media @kostkas.continue.katies.quest
– Steve Bigham contributed to this report