Youth Forward scholarship 2016 – Making Strides Toward Philanthropy

Name: Genevieve Kathryn Knowles
From: Anchorage, AK
Grade: 12
School: South Anchorage High School
Votes: 106

Making Strides Toward

In August of my sophomore year I lost my best friend Brooke to a
drunk driver. The loss of her devastated me, as well as, the
community. Thousands packed the memorial service and heard the chosen
speakers describe Brooke’s unwavering commitment to the community.
They spoke of the hundreds of hours she devoted to the charities she
loved during her short life. As her best friend, I had worked with
her frequently but hadn’t realized how deeply involved she was in our
community. Her devotion to others was inspiring but left me
questioning why someone so giving could be lost so young.

After a few weeks, I felt the need to do something to honor her and
the support her mourning family and friends. I chose community
service in JROTC, so that I could include all those who were also
enduring Brooke’s loss. I felt she would appreciate the method
chosen. I formed a team of classmates, teachers and relatives to
participate in the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against
Breast Cancer Walk. Her parents graciously gave permission to name
the team in her honor, which gave me greater focus and purpose in my
efforts. I worked hard for months recruiting and organizing the
team, earning donations, speaking throughout Anchorage and managing
social media, television and radio exposure for the event.

On the day of the Strides Walk dozens of my classmates, Brooke’s
parents and friends came out to participate. Our thrill was in coming
together in her name, to ensure it continued in good works in the
community and knowing that the $3000.00 in donations earned would
give life, as well as hope, to those suffering from cancer.

I continued to lead fundraising and team building at my high school
for the charity for next two years earning over 900 hours of
volunteer hours, beginning in July and finishing in November each
year. As my involvement grew so did my responsibilities. I began
recruiting corporate donors and sponsors requiring accounting and
National ACS representation.

During the summer of my senior year I was asked to serve as the
first Youth Ambassador in the country for the American Cancer
Society, responsible for encouraging youth involvement in the event
and serving on the regional planning team. During the 3 years of my
involvement I helped raise over $41,000.00, increased the youth
participation by 500% and became the face of the American Cancer
Society Youth involvement throughout Anchorage, promoting youth to
become active members of the community. Breast Cancer Awareness Week
is now formally recognized the school district and enjoys the
participation of hundreds of kids each year striving to eradicate the

Now, as those who attended school with Brooke graduate, her presence
and the sadness of her loss have faded; yet the “Walk team”
will march on in her honor, ensuring her continued contribution to
our world, as well as mine. I will always miss her and be grateful to
her for the lesson of giving and compassion.

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