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Instead of a Sweet 16 party, teen uses birthday to raise money, awareness for Leukemia, Lymphoma Society

| Monday, Jan. 9, 2017, 9:00 p.m.
Rachel Karman
Rachel Karman
Rachel Karman, a Hampton High School sophomore, and part of her family that joined her at a 5K at Hartwood Acres to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
Rachel Karman, a Hampton High School sophomore, and part of her family that joined her at a 5K at Hartwood Acres to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

There could be a question as to what's sweeter — Hampton resident Rachel Karman turning 16 on Jan. 15 or her celebrating it by holding a fundraiser at a local ice cream shop to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

As part of the organization's Student of the Year challenge to raise money, Karman, a sophomore at Hampton High School, is asking anyone to drop by Churn, a homemade ice cream and coffee store in Richland on Jan. 16, to purchase birthday-themed treats that will benefit her fundraiser.

“It's just a great idea to raise money for,” said Rachel, who said having a big sweet 16 birthday party didn't appeal to her. “I'm just turning a year older.”

“The idea started with ice cream and birthdays being linked together, and since the kickoff is so close to Rachel's birthday it seemed like a great match,” said Rachel's mom, Peggy.

The Student of the Year competition, which began on Jan. 7, is sponsored by the Leukemia Society's Western Pennsylvania/West Virginia chapter. It's the chapter's first year holding the competition, which features students selected through a formal application process, said Jennifer Miller, 31, campaign manager of the Student of the Year challenge.

The nomination was open to students in ninth through 12th grade. Of the 15 nominated, 11 were selected based on their volunteering and philanthropic history, leadership skills, as well as an in-person interview, said Miller, of Glenshaw.

Now through Feb. 25, competitors are requested to raise a minimum goal of $5,000 through a variety of fundraising avenues, of which they plan, promote and execute, said Miller.

The event is just one several Rachel will hold in the seven-week fundraising drive.

Miller said she's impressed by the applicants who are participating, particularly Rachel, saying she was “blown away” by her application and her volunteering efforts.

Peggy said her daughter volunteers in “countless ways … big and small,” whether it's at her church or for activities as a member of her high school's Rotary Club, or as a Girl Scout.

The winner will be announced at a special Leukemia and Lymphoma Society event in late February on the Gateway Clipper in Pittsburgh. That person will receive a $5,000 scholarship.

Those who want to help can visit Churn located on William Penn Highway and purchasing any of these three birthday-themed products — ice cream, milkshakes and lattes, said owner Kellie Costa. She'll donate 25 percent of these sales. The store will be open 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Rachel a $5,000 goal, but her mother said it looks like she'll be able to exceed that.

She is also requesting $16 donations in honor of her 16th birthday. And Peggy said they're plannng events at her church, St. Mary's of the Assumption in Glenshaw. They also will be selling “Twirly Girl Pretzels” at workplaces and other events. They can take orders via email as well at

More information can be found and donations can be made at

Natalie Beneviat is a Tribune-Review contributor.

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