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VOL. 133 | NO. 53 | Wednesday, March 14, 2018

High School Student Starts New St. Jude Fundraiser, Heels 4 Healing

K. Denise Jennings

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Students of all ages are getting involved in service and fundraising earlier in life, and one local Memphis high school senior is no exception.

Samantha Tancredi, a senior at Hutchison School, will be hosting Heels 4 Healing on March 24 at 9 a.m. at Shelby Farms Park. The event is a 5K race and community celebration with live music, food trucks and other fun activities to benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Tancredi is a budding philanthropist and member of her school’s philanthropy literacy board, an organization that educates students on philanthropy and raises money for charities each year. Senior members of the board are then charged with deciding where to allocate money raised.

Samantha Tancredi, right, with her friend Courtney Davis at Hutchison School. Tancredi, a senior, has organized a 5K run and community event called Heels 4 Healing that will be held March 24 and is a fundraiser for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, where Davis and another friend receive treatment. (Courtesy Hutchison School)

“Philanthropy is one of my passions in life,” Tancredi said.

While she’s very involved in philanthropy through school, Heels 4 Healing is an independent project for her.

“Philanthropy is very important to me, and I really wanted to find a way to give back,” she said.

Tancredi has two friends who are patients at St. Jude and she has seen firsthand how the Memphis-based children’s research hospital changes the lives of young people afflicted by cancer and other childhood diseases. Her friend Courtney Davis, a junior at Hutchison, has sickle cell anemia, and the treatment that she has received at St. Jude has been life saving. Davis is also an avid spokesperson for St. Jude and even had the privilege of introducing First Lady Michelle Obama at a St. Jude event.

Another Hutchison student, Julianna Judge, an eighth-grader, has battled acute lymphocytic leukemia with the help of treatment from St. Jude. Tancredi sees working to raise money for St. Jude as a tangible way she can help her friends and other children who are similarly afflicted.

But she didn’t just want to raise money. She really wanted to create an event that would get other high schools involved and possibly live on after she graduated. So she recruited team leaders at many local high schools including White Station, Collierville, Houston, St. Mary’s, Lausanne, St. George’s, St. Agnes, St. Benedict Academy and Memphis University School.

“There are different leaders at each school to be a point person and to be in charge of race sign-ups,” Tancredi said. “I thought this was a great opportunity to bridge the gaps with other Memphis schools.”

The fundraising goal for Heels 4 Healing is $50,000, and Tancredi has already raised $32,000. In addition to lots of help from St. Jude, Tancredi had help from Start to Finish, a group that consults and handles the business and logistics side of running a race, including the logo design and print materials.

She also reached out to different business leaders that she knew in the community to ask their advice, and they were happy to help her with logistics as well as offering sponsorships for the event.

With the advent of more students taking matters into their own hands to raise money for St. Jude, there are lots of resources to help students plan events. At there are links for students specific to their ages that offer resources and ideas for anyone who is interested in getting involved.

“The generosity of these students helps ensure families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food – because all a family should worry about is helping their child live,” said Colby Maxwell, a spokesman for St. Jude.

For more information about Heels 4 Healing or to sign up, visit 5KHeels4Healing on Facebook or follow @5kheels4healing on Instagram.

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