There's no better way to celebrate the life of a loved one than to perform a special act in honor of their memory.
It will be with a heavy heart, then, that Tyler Sawyer carries out his senior project through a variety of activities.
A junior at Lehighton Area High School, Sawyer has decided to perform his project in memory of his cousin, Kelly Sledzinski, who last year lost her life to leukemia.
"I'm going to have T-shirts, sweatshirts, and wrist bands sold in school and at a bake sale at Wal-Mart," said Sawyer, 16. "If the students wear the T-shirts on a certain day, they'll maybe get to watch a movie, and if the teachers buy wristbands, maybe they could have a dress down day."
In addition, Sawyer said he plans to participate in The Lehigh Valley "Light the Night" walk, which will be held at 4:30, Oct. 16 at Northampton Community College in Bethlehem. Sawyer said his goal is to raise $1,500, and added that he plans to present whatever amount of money he raises to the LLS at the walk.
Pamela Formica, Light the Night campaign manager, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Eastern Pennsylvania Chapter/Lehigh Valley Branch, praised Sawyer for his devotion.
"The fact that he lost his cousin and still wants to raise money so others have a chance says a lot about his character," Formica said.
Sawyer said Sledzinski was 19 at the time she lost her battle to the disease. A close-knit group, Sawyer said his family took her loss hard.
"My family went through a huge tragedy," Sawyer said. "My cousin contracted leukemia, was doing amazing, was a big fighter, got a fungus, and then chemo(therapy) and lymphoma destroyed her immune system."
Sawyer said everyone has the opportunity to help and raise money to find a cure.
"The only thing I feel that I really need to do is make sure everyone knows that along with bigger cancers and blood cancers, that leukemia is a serious disease," he said. "People need to be aware that it's out there and there are things to do, and anyone can help."
The son of Chris and Brandy Botek, Sawyer said he witnessed firsthand how fast leukemia can strike.
"We had a lot of help, constant visits from our hospitals," he said. "I figured I would help raise money just to help another person who would be dealing with this."
Anyone who would like to make a donation to the LLS may visit Sawyer's website at http://pages.lightthenight.org/lv/LehighVy10/tsawyer, or contact him at 1-484-464-1761, or 610-377-6096.