Young woman donates scholarship to student battling leukemia

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EAST PROVIDENCE — Dakota Grenier, a senior at St. Mary Academy Bay View, didn’t enter into the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Student of the Year competition to build her resume for college applications. And she didn’t do it for the potential scholarship prize of $5,000 given to the winner. Grenier wanted to raise money to “knock out cancer,” because for her it’s personal. Her mother is a survivor of Stage 4 Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma.

On Tuesday, March 15, Carla Mulhern, Campaign Manager for Man & Woman of the Year and the Student of the Year Campaign at The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, congratulated Grenier on her fundraising efforts in front of the Bay View community. Grenier raised a total of $34,668.22 in six weeks, and was given the Mission Award for most closely living the mission of the LLS.

With the Mission Award came a $2,500 scholarship prize. At the LLS Student of the Year Awards Ceremony on Saturday, Feb. 27, Grenier stood up to receive her award and announced instead that she’d be giving it away. She’d recently learned of a high school student in West Warwick battling leukemia and Grenier is donating the scholarship funds to that student’s college education fund.

Grenier was joined in the whirlwind fundraising efforts by a team of Bay View and Bishop Hendricken students, as well as a hometown friend from Coventry. As Grenier wasn’t motivated by the potential scholarship prize and says she couldn’t have raised the money without the support of her team, she told them in advance that any scholarship prize she won she would split evenly among the team members. However, the night of the Awards dinner she told the team that she would be donating her portion of any scholarship prize money to the West Warwick student and the rest of the team signed on to do the same.

Working with Bay View’s administration, Grenier and her team held a variety of fundraising events and opportunities, including a t-shirt sale, dress down days, a mixer, dodgeball competition and a comedy night. With the support of the administration, she mailed a letter to every Bay View family, as well as personal family and friends, in order to garner support for LLS. The Lower and Middle Schools joined the cause by holding a bake sale for her campaign.

Grenier’s efforts to contribute to the fight against cancer were varied leading up to the competition for LLS. In the past, she held a bake sale to benefit the American Cancer Society and last summer she volunteered at Camp Dotty, a weeklong camp for oncology patients and their siblings, put on by the Tomorrow Fund at Hasbro Children's Hospital. Over the course of the camp week, she grew extremely close to one of her campers: a little boy who won his battle against leukemia. He inspired her to donate 12 inches of her hair to make wigs for women battling cancer.

Grenier aimed to honor her mom and her campers from Camp Dotty by participating in the Student of the Year competition. She is continuing her mission even after the official six-week fundraising contest has ended. She is presently interning with LLS and helping Carla Mulhern with the Man & Woman of the Year fundraising contest. She will begin at the University of Rhode Island in the fall and plans to study nursing. Her goal is to be a nurse practitioner with a focus in pediatric oncology.

“Words cannot express how grateful I am for the overwhelming support from my peers, school and community,” Grenier said. “With every dollar we fundraise, we are one step closer to finding a cure.”