Kaitlyn Hansen’s dad, Keith, died from multiple myeloma when she was just 4 years old. Now 15, when the chance came up to honor her father, Kaitlyn jumped at it. She’s part of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s “Student of the Year” competition. They’re trying to raise $50,000 through online and in-person fundraising, Pampered Chef, a free throw shooting competition and Blaze Pizza. If they raise $50,000, they get to add her father’s name to important research, as a way to honor him. Hear Kaitlyn’s interview with Channel 13 (WNYT) news anchor, Mark Mulholland.

Here is Kaitlyn’s story in her own words:

“I’m Kaitlyn Hansen. I’m 15 years old, I’ve been going to Shenendehowa since kindergarten. I’m in the graduating class of 2024. I’m running for Student of the Year through the Leukemia and Lymphoma society. The Leukemia and Lymphoma society is an organization that raises money for more blood cancer research. I made a team of people I personally know and we are working to raise as much money as possible for LLS. I was inspired to do this campaign by my dad. When my mom was pregnant with me, my dad was diagnosed with stage 3 Multiple Myeloma. My dad fought for 4 and a half years. During that time he was in remission for 2 years before the cancer came back. When it came back there wasn’t much that could be done. Sadly, he died on March 26, 2011, at 39. This made my mom a single mom of a 4 year old, and 6 year old at the time. My dad always put everyone else before himself. His family and friends were the most important people to him and he wanted nothing more than to be the best dad to his two daughters. He lit up every room and never complained. He always felt so blessed for everything he had even through battling cancer. I am so blessed to call him my dad and to be able to help other families avoid this tragedy. Losing a parent at such a young age has really affected me throughout my life. At only 4 years old I had to witness the death of my father, my hero, my best friend, I had to watch my mom lose her soulmate, my mom was always so good at doing everything she could to make us happy. I don’t remember much with my dad, a lot of my memories come through stories. My three main memories of him were when I was 2 and he came home from the hospital, I was so excited, I would run up to him with pure joy. When I was 3 he was in the hospital for New Years Eve, I remember telling my mom we weren’t allowed to clean up the confetti until he got home so he could open the confetti we saved for him. The last memory I remember from him was at his funeral, when I went up to his casket I touched his nose and looked at my mom and asked why he was so cold. Growing up I would watch videos of soldiers coming home to their kids and imagine it was me, even though I knew it would never happen, I hoped that somehow it would. My family lives at least 3 hours away from my family and my mom has always wanted to move closer but I never wanted to because this was the house my dad lived in and I didn’t want to leave it. Since we lived so far from our family I never really had a male figure in my life, though my mom is the best mom I could ever ask for I always knew I was missing out on something. I would watch my friends with their dads and wonder why I had to lose my dad. If I could help prevent even one family from going through what my family had to, I would in a heartbeat. Donating to my campaign will help my team to reach our goal of $50,000 and help so many families. The link to donate on my page is https://events.lls.org/uny/unysoy22/khansen.”