When Ambassador Girl Scout Lauren Varanese decided to pursue scouting's highest achievement, the Gold Award, she took inspiration from a friend and cancer survivor. Her goal was to make others aware of the special concerns and needs of young adults dealing with cancer.
To accomplish that, the East Valley teen organized a Young Adult Cancer Awareness Walk-A-Thon last fall and began spreading the word among family, friends and other Girl Scouts. She told them that about 70,000 adolescents and young adults in the prime of their lives are diagnosed with cancer each year in the United States, and they need support and understanding not only from loved ones but from the entire community.
Also, she said, “more research is needed to develop effective methods of diagnosis and treatment to assure longer and healthier lives for young people with cancer.”
Organizing the Walk-A-Thon was an enormous undertaking, but Varanese's drive and enthusiasm motivated more than 80 people to turn out for the event. It was a huge success. Proceeds will help fund her continuing efforts to raise awareness by hosting a fun but informational meet-up event for young adults dealing with cancer and writing an informative pamphlet to hand out to doctors, oncologists, hospital social workers and cancer research centers.
“We need to improve quality of life for the young adult cancer patients, build a strong peer community so they don’t feel isolated, help unite local resources and promote more research,” Varanese stated.
She's quick to give credit to her fellow scouts and others for helping make the Walk-A-Thon successful. "I have been familiar with Girl Scouts and their willingness to help a fellow scout, but I had no idea when I started this project that complete strangers from my community would give so generously to support a young scout wanting to help others.
"Everywhere I went asking for help and support from businesses and individuals, I found kind-hearted people. I have so many people to thank for helping make my Walk-a-Thon a success."
Girl Scouting is one of 46 programs supported by Mesa United Way. To read more "Faces of Need - and Hope" stories, and to help, visit www.mesaunitedway.org.