JERICHO, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Three Long Island teens who have lost loved ones to cancer are taking action after tragedy and earning national recognition for their work.
The trio of Jericho High School juniors — Benjamin Mark, Drew Naiburg-Smith and Ryan Berger — worked together before school, after school and even on weekends for one cause.
“Cancer is such a prevalent thing in our society and everyone’s affected by it, so why not do something amazing for something that’s so important?” Mark told CBS2’s Reena Roy.
Their eyes were set on the search for a cure.
They raised money for seven weeks straight as part of the annual Leukemia & Lymphoma Society fundraising competition, leading a team of 35 students across several local school districts — Roslyn, Syosset, Portledge, Wheatley and Half Hollow Hills. Together, they raised a whopping $278,000 for blood cancer research.
“As the money kept on coming in, it was crazy. For every single dollar, every notification we got, it was like this exciting moment,” Naiburg-Smith said.
They didn’t just help beat cancer; they beat out 988 teams across the country.
It was a reward not just for them, but for those they’ve lost.
Naiburg-Smith’s cousin died from leukemia, and so did Berger’s grandfather.
Both were inspired to make a difference in honor of their loved ones.
“For me, this was a way to honor my grandfather and his passing, and I think that he didn’t die in vain,” Berger said. “I think he would be very proud.”
“It makes you wanna do more and it makes you wanna continue having an impact on the community and honestly, the world. And it’s something, it’s an experience I’ll carry with me for rest of my life,” Naiburg-Smith said.
The students will be able to see just how much their hard work will be helping in the fight against cancer. They’ll be meeting with researchers in September to find out where exactly their money is going and what kind of impact it will have.