SOLANA BEACH — As part of an assignment for their seventh-grade humanities class, five students from Earl Warren Middle School recently donated more than $800 to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
In the process, the 13-year-olds from Solana Beach learned about cancer survival rates, city government, fundraising and tax-exempt status.
Social sciences teacher Connor Nesseler asked students to raise money and donate it to a good cause.
“We picked the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society because cancer has occurred in all of our families,” said Max Kornbluth. “We wanted to help a disease that affects kids our age and leukemia is the most common cancer for kids.”
Max and his teammates — Zack Borthwick, Mazen Idriss, Nemo Leonelli and Finn Mallery — raised the money by holding a three-on-three soccer tournament and bake sale.
“We all love soccer so we figured why not have a fundraiser doing something we love,” Mazen said.
What the teenagers didn’t realize is the city requires insurance and a permit for events in which there are more than 25 people and payment is required.
“So we called a ton of our friends and met at Encinitas Community Park,” Mazen said. “Since it wasn’t an organized event with payment they didn’t charge us.”
“We came to the field early to set up the cones,” Max said. “We made brackets on the spot because we weren’t sure how many people would show up.”
In the end, 24 participants made voluntary donations to enter the tournament and the group raised $376. The winners received gift certificates donated by Yummy Yogurt in Solana Beach.
“One rule was that we couldn’t use any of our own money,” Mazen said. “Obviously it’s pretty hard to get people to donate so we asked the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society for their tax ID and we needed to do all this tax ID type of stuff.”
The number also came in handy when the boys launched part two of their fundraising efforts.
“Panera generously donated food for our bake sale and we raised $427,” said Mazen, whose teammates pitched in by baking and making lemonade.
To complete their efforts the boys collected and donated gently used children’s books for leukemia patients.
In addition to fundraising lessons, the quintet learned some facts about cancer.
“We interviewed a friend who had leukemia when he was little,” Mazen said. “We learned there’s a large survival rate.”
“We also interviewed a doctor who teats children with leukemia,” Max added. “He clarified what we learned and told us what needs to be done to get closer to a cure.
“He said we need to increase knowledge about cancer so people can get more excited to find a cure,” he added.
Max, Mazen, Zack, Nemo and Finn personally presented their $803 donation to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society on May 8.
Max and Mazen didn’t hesitate when asked if they would undertake similar fundraisers in the future.
“Yea, definitely,” Max said.
“My grandfather has cancer now,” Mazen added. “He was my inspiration for the project.”