Junior students organize leukemia fundraising campaign for peer


Adelyn Clayton

Juniors Virgil Guo, Natalie Sanchez and Anahi Sanchez pose with fliers for their campaign.

The cost of cancer treatments and the toll it takes on individuals and their families can be overwhelming. The reality of the time being is there is no confirmed cure for all of the hardships the disease of cancer will bring on the life of the individual. Last year, junior Ronni Horn was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a form of blood cancer. Now, three Newton High School juniors have organized a fundraising campaign in Horn’s honor.

Virgil Guo, Anahi Sanchez and Natalie Sanchez are all a part of the Student Visionaries of the Year campaign through the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. This campaign recognizes student leaders as well as tries to improve the lives of people living with various forms of blood cancers by trying to actively find a cure.

“We heard about the Student Visionaries of the Year campaign through our National Honors Society’s sponsor, Mrs. Adrianne Wedel,” Guo said. “When she received an e-mail asking her to nominate some students for the campaign, she appointed Natalie Sanchez, Anahi Sanchez and me as the student leaders for the campaign. When she approached us with the opportunity, we immediately felt the need to spread this worthwhile cause around the community and to support our friends like Ronni Horn to overcome their most difficult times.”

The Railers for Ronni team has made a goal to raise $50,000 by March 10. The campaign team that raises the most money by the end of the LLS competition will be named the Student Visionary of the Year of the Lower Plains region. As great of an accomplishment as this would be for the three students, that is not the main reason they have worked so hard to get this campaign up and running.

“We mostly want to grow our leadership skills because we meet with a lot of business leaders and a lot of community members. Being able to lead and communicate, as well as put ourselves out there is a great benefit,” campaign member and Railer News reporter Natalie Sanchez said. “When we heard about the campaign, we thought of our classmate Ronni Horn and how we could do this in their honor and how it is a great way to fund cancer treatments.”

The team has put on multiple events and has gotten in touch with numerous businesses and outlets to spread the word about the Railers for Ronni campaign. On Feb. 7, there was a special menu at Applebee’s where half of each order off of the select menu would go to the campaign. There has also been a Railers for Ronni Bingo Night, a seminar competition at NHS and the team was able to get a story promoting the campaign written by Harvey County Now. 

“We are currently doing many things to help promote our campaign,” Guo said. “We have sent out thousands of emails already, connecting ourselves with business owners around the Newton Area, speaking at the Newton Chamber of Commerce Breakfast, speaking at the Newton Lion’s Club monthly meeting, promoting our events through posters and social media such as fundraising nights through Arby’s on Feb. 20 and 27. We hope the Newton Community can continue spreading those events around and help our campaign reach its goal of $50,000.”

The team believes that the LLS campaign is a great cause and has so far been a rewarding experience. The team feels they are able to make a difference, even if it is just in spreading awareness of LLS and their mission to cure blood cancer. Natalie Sanchez would encourage more students to participate in this campaign in the next few years.

“It’s just a great cause. To be able to help raise funds for cancer, specifically because we are helping find treatment for children, is very rewarding,” Sanchez said. “If anyone thinks that they would be willing to participate in the next years, you should definitely apply for [this campaign.]”