SHREWSBURY – Over the course of their friendship, Suner Chopra and Rachael Laikangbam have shared many experiences and created countless memories. However, nothing they have done has impacted more people as their latest endeavor.
Chopra and Laikangbam, both sophomores at Shrewsbury High School, have formed “Cure Cache,” a team participating in the annual student visionaries of the year program, sponsored by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Each team has seven weeks to raise as much money as possible for the society.
“I’ve always wanted to look for ways that I could give back to the community and for volunteer opportunities,” said Chopra, 15. “And then one of my friends, who participated in this last year, reached out to both of us and asked if we would be interested in improving our presentation skills and public speaking skills and volunteering ethics.”
That friend, Shrewsbury junior Trishna Nikte, has taken on an advisory role with the team.
“She is sort of like our student mentor,” said Laikangbam, 15. “We can reach out once in a while to her to ask for advice on who to reach out to, how to reach out. And she’s given us some [best practices].”
Despite advances in research and treatment, lymphoma and leukemia impact hundreds of thousands of American families annually.
According to the American Cancer Society, there were 85,720 Americans diagnosed with lymphoma and 60,530 diagnosed with leukemia in 2020. The cancer society estimates that upward of 1.3 million Americans are presently living with or in remission from leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma.
While Chopra and Laikangbam don’t have anyone close to them who has been struck by these diseases, they do have family members who have battled chronic or life-threatening illness.
“I know the struggles of being related to someone who is in the hospital or struggling [with illness],” said Chopra. “I don’t think it necessarily has to be the same disease for you to be able to sympathize and understand how important it is to help out.”
The student campaign runs from Feb. 9 through April 2. Chopra and Laikangbam are in the midst of a series of fundraising activities, which have included a recent dine out event at MOOYAH Burgers, Fries & Shakes in Northborough. The duo has also sold gift baskets at Shrewsbury High and gift bags outside the Shrewsbury Senior Center for Valentine’s Day.
“Doing that event at the senior center was nice because we got the chance to meet people and they were telling us their own stories about dealing with cancer or having relatives with cancer,” said Laikangbam.
“You can see firsthand how what you’re doing is helping people and how much they appreciate what you’re doing,” said Chopra.
According to information provided by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, funds raised through the campaign “are used for research, education and support, and advocacy initiatives. Their team’s mission is to assist families with household costs so they can focus on treatment, fund scholarships for students re-entering the education system after cancer treatment and help to fund support groups to assist the mental health of patients.”
Chopra and Laikangbam have not only recruited some of their friends to join “Cure Cache,” they have enlisted their mothers and Chopra’s younger brother to help the effort.
Over the final weeks of the fundraising campaign, Chopra and Laikangbam are planning another dine out event, this time at Margaritas, and also a small vendor fair at Trinity Church in Shrewsbury.
Anyone wishing to donate directly to Chopra and Laikangbam’s campaign can do so online at tinyurl.com/yhwr8mn8.
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