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In addition to send letters soliciting donations and spreading the word online, the pair is organizing a poker night and a pasta feed

Two West Linn High School juniors have joined a national fundraising competition to support the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Alexis Stohler and Abby Peterson are competing in the LLS Students of the Year program as Team Be the Change.Alexis Stohler and Abby Peterson with their families

Stohler and Peterson, both juniors, were nominated for the program by Abby Manley and Emily Fogg, who previously participated in Students of the Year.

Starting in mid-January, teams across Oregon, Idaho, Montana and SW Washington will start raising funds for LLS. Those funds will go toward research into leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease and myeloma.

"It also provides many other critical needs that a patient and/or family may need while going through treatment, such as counseling, financial help with transportation, lodging, or having to take time off work," Stohler and Peterson explained in a draft letter for their fundraising.

Both students were drawn to the program in part because of personal connections to LLS' work, having experienced loved ones having cancer.

The teams will have from Jan. 18 to March 8 to raise funds. Stohler and Peterson are aiming to raise upwards of $30,000, which can come through direct donations, fundraising events, or sponsorships. The team can't accept funds until the official start, but until then, the pair are committed to preparing for the fundraising sprint.

The ten teams that participated in the region earlier this year raised $183,000.

In addition to send letters soliciting donations and spreading the word online, the pair is organizing a poker night and a pasta feed.

"What we're doing is obviously for a good cause but it's also an opportunity for me and Alexis (Stohler) to take a leadership role in our community," Peterson said.

Peterson found out about the opportunity from Manley and Fogg, the 2018 Students of the Year. Peterson asked Stohler, a long-time friend, to join.

"I thought (by) bringing Alexis, it would be more successful," Peterson said. "She brings ideas to the table that I never thought of and vice versa."

Both girls had experience with fundraising for organizations like the Tiffany Autism Foundation and the Children's Cancer Association. "We're both very outspoken people, we're not shy," Stohler said, explaining that the LLS competition presented an opportunity to learn event planning, public speaking, project management and communications skills.

The duo also have enlisted friends and family members to join the team. "We also have our team members, which are pretty much our friends that we know we can rely on, and they're helping us with the little things," Peterson explained.

"Our moms have contributed a lot to this and we're really thankful for that," Stohler added.

The team to raise the most money is named Portland's Students of the Year and receives a scholarship.

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