It takes teamwork


Alec Silberg, Dimensions

Matthew Steindecker and Alec Silberg at the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Student’s Of The Year Gala.

Eliana Wolf, Reporter

Dressed to the nines, the CESJDS 007 License to Cure Fundraising Team stood anxiously in the gala ballroom on March 12, along with other Washington, D.C. student campaigns, awaiting the final donations for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. The team was excited to see the fruits of their labor in their quest to help eradicate blood cancers through the Student Visionaries of the Year campaign, after two months of fundraising through outreach and Zoom events.

Last year, juniors Alec Silberg and Matthew Steindecker created a fundraising team of students for the Student Visionaries of the Year Campaign with the focus on making a difference in the lives of current and future cancer patients.  Their goal was to raise money for research, policy change, patient education and overall improvement of care for blood cancer patients. 

Each member on the team has their own personal connection to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, whether their family member has cancer or a zeal for improving the quality of care for those affected by cancer. For Silberg, the campaign feeds into his passion for medicine and community service. 

“I’ve always been interested in medicine,” Silberg said. “I’m interested in curing cancer and I think it’s a great cause.”

Junior Gilli Schisterman also has a personal connection to the cause, with Leukemia being a part of her immediate family. The proximity of the cause is one of the reasons she decided to undertake the role of team leader in the Student Visionaries of the Year campaign. 

“Now I think I’m a lot more interested because my dad also has leukemia,” Schisterman said. “So I think it’s a really important cause.”

Since last year, the team has expanded to 19 members. Silberg and Steindecker are passing on their leadership roles to sophomore Stella Muzin and junior Gilli Schisterman, with Silberg and Steindecker as mentors for the team. 

The Student Visionaries of the year campaign runs from Jan. 21 to March 11 and the team is now in preparation season. The winners of the campaign get to appear on Good Morning Washington with an ad on a radio station, and they are called upon to speak with other teams on their successes.

LLS staff advisor Katie Money has returned to work with the team again. The team felt that Money was their biggest support throughout the entire process of fundraising. She meets with the team regularly, strategizing plans for the team and supporting them in any way possible.

Money teaches the team how to fundraise effectively and how to reach out to others to ask for donations. While she starts teaching these skills early in the year, the team isn’t allowed to raise a single dollar until Jan. 21, but they can start preparing for the campaign season earlier. 

“We have workshops available in the fall for people to get some extra preparation and hear from past winners and hear from our honor heroes who are students that we honor in our campaign who are blood cancer survivors,” Money said. 

Schisterman, Muzin, Silberg and Steindecker are using some of their fundraising strategies from last year to raise the most money possible. Last year, the team had to develop their own fundraising strategies as they were the first group representing JDS. In the end, their fundraising strategies resulted in approximately $93,000 raised. 

“Definitely our biggest [fundraisers] were the contact lists and just spreading awareness like posters, and talking about [the campaign at] Kab Shab,” Silberg said. “Also we had an Instagram that helped a lot. Spread things through social 


They do this by creating contact lists, gaining corporate sponsorships and planning fundraising events. But most important to the leaders is that everyone has an objective for the campaign. 

“Every person should have a goal for themselves. But there’s also a goal that we want them to know that [is] you have to actually participate and you have to spend time on this,” Schisterman said. “It’s not an easy thing to do.”

The team at JDS, and particularly Muzin, is focused on getting corporate sponsorships. The team is reaching out to different companies in the JDS network to see who will match donations to LLS. 

JDS students have their sights set on impacting the community in positive ways, with one of those being the LLS Campaign, with an intent to ensure that the fewest number of people suffer through cancer treatment. 

“They already have gotten off to such a great start, especially since the team has grown in such an exceptional way,” Money said. “They have high goals, and I think that their excitement for the campaign is really contagious.”