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GREAT HEIGHTS Liana Salehian (at right) and her friend Erika Cruz, both juniors at Michael E. DeBakey High School for Health Professions, participated in The Lemon Climb Houston to raise money for childhood-cancer research.
After a member of my friend’s family was diagnosed with cancer (and, thankfully, became a survivor), my friend Erika Cruz and I set off to bring childhood-cancer awareness to our school in partnership with our local HOSA chapter, a student organization for aspiring healthcare professionals.
Though cancer research and treatment have improved since 50 years ago (an 80 percent increase in survivors, for example), the number of kids diagnosed every day hasn’t decreased, and, for many rare cancers, there is still much research to be done.
This spring, we set our eye on participating in “The Lemon Climb Houston” founded by Alex’s Lemonade Stand, which was all started by a 4 year old selling lemonade. Alex, who was diagnosed with neuroblastoma in the first year of her life, began selling lemonade to fund cancer research. Her legacy, the lemonade stand, became the second largest charity in the United States. It organizes many events throughout the year to raise money for cancer research.
So, what did we do? After raising $200 in a week, we went up to the 35th floor of the JPMorgan Chase Tower in downtown Houston. But here’s the catch – we used the stairs. Thirty-five flights of stairs equated to about 800 steps that took us 20 minutes – but felt like 20 hours. Though we knew it was going to be rough for two girls who don’t really exercise, we didn’t realize that it would be that tough until we noticed we were already tired by the seventh floor (yikes)! Afterwards, everything was a blur to me. All I can remember was a combination of being out of breath and feeling numb all over, but also having Eye of the Tiger playing on loop for motivation.
In the end, we persevered, and the reward at the end was looking at the Houston skyline from the tallest tower in Texas as well as raising awareness for a cause. The money we raised helped researchers fund their programs to help find explanations and ways to fight cancer. That’s one flight of stairs for us, but one potential discovery in cancer research.
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