In 2009, Laura McDiarmid lost her friend, Emily Lewis, to pediatric cancer.
When Laura saw friends and family helping the Lewis family with the annual Emily’s Rainbow Run and Family Walk, which supports pediatric cancer research at University Hospital Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital, she decided she wanted to help out, too.
She started by selling Rainbow Friendship bracelets that she and several friends made at the annual race. One year she also had help from a Westlake Girl Scout troop. Laura also is on the organizing committee for Emily’s Rainbow Run, where she helps with publicity and encourages student involvement through the Westlake Schools.
“I help coordinate the volunteers (for Emily’s Rainbow Run) every year. Laura wanted to help in some way,” Carol McDiarmid said. “As she got older and realized the importance of the cause and that there were other ways to solicit money, her involvement grew.”
Over the years Laura raised more than $6,000 for pediatric cancer research, earning the Emily Lewis Youth in Philanthropy Award from University Hospitals (UH) Case Medical Center last spring.
That award grabbed the attention of UH Case Medical Center, which nominated Laura for the Association of Fundraising Professionals Greater Cleveland Chapter Youth in Philanthropy Award. Laura, a junior at Westlake High School, won and will be honored on Nov. 1 at a celebration of the 30th annual National Philanthropy Day at Signature at LaCentre in Westlake.
Carol McDiarmid said her daughter is highly motivated by witnessing the devastating effects of pediatric cancer.
Laura was one of three WHS students to participate in the Cleveland Clinic Office of Civic Education Initiatives Summer Internship Program. The paid nine-week internship fosters 21st century skills in which students explore science and various health careers through one-on-one mentoring with Cleveland Clinic physicians.
Laura participated in the Creative Learning Internship, writing and directing a video for the 2013 season of mRi: myRESEARCH Illuminated – a web-based, TV-style video series that illustrates the research of Cleveland Clinic high school interns. Her video, “Science Made Simple,” highlights research on targeted therapies in cancer treatment.