Name: Grace Katherine McDonough
From: Christiana, PA
Grade: High School Senior
School: Octorara Area High School
Late in my sophomore year, I became involved in the Hugh O’Brien Youth
Leadership program (HOBY). As part of my commitment, I was
responsible for organizing a fund raising event to benefit pediatric
cancer patients through the Four Diamonds Childhood Cancer Fund. . To
fulfill my commitment, I worked with my friends to set up a Powder
Puff football game at my High School’s field during my junior year.
This involved meeting with school administrators, and gaining the
support of both the School Board and the Superintendent. With their
help, I organized the event with senior volunteer girls playing a
team of junior volunteers on a chilly November evening. The event was
a success, raising a net of $500 for the cause after all expenses. I
spent about 4 hours a week for 4 months planning and organizing this
A further part of this commitment was to help establish a ‘legacy’ fund raising event.
A heart breaking event at our school brought us all together to help
make another fund raising Powder Puff game happen. Dealing with
strong feelings and turning sadness into something good was probably
the most challenging part.
A little over two years ago my Octorara community took a huge hit- we
lost two students to Carbon Monoxide poisoning on November 22, 2014.
They were sitting in a car while it was running to keep warm. One of
the students, Carly, had been my classmate, teammate and friend for
years; she was truly one of the happiest people I’ve ever known.
After experiencing such a massive loss within our small community,
nothing seemed the same. It’s been hard for us students to move
forward after losing two friends our own age- but Carly’s mother, as
well as her friends, have been determined to keep Carly’s happy
spirit alive within our community, getting Octorara “back on
track”. A week before Carly lost her life she participated in
Octorara’s Powder Puff Football game.
decided that she would keep her daughter’s optimistic character alive
within our community by creating Live Laugh Love Life-The Carly
Imbierowicz Foundation. Not many people are aware of how common CO
poisoning is among teenagers. As the anniversary was getting closer
she asked me if Carly’s foundation could sponsor the 2015 Powder Puff
game as a Carbon Monoxide Awareness event. Of course I agreed.
Together we successfully organized this event raising awareness of
Carbon Monoxide poisoning and fund raising to help rebuild the school
As my time at Octorara is coming close to the end, it’s become so important to me
that I make a difference within my community. I have participated in
model UN, am a member of the National Honors Society, played varsity
volleyball and softball on our school teams, I’ve been a part of
almost every club, and I hold executive positions within those clubs,
but all that really doesn’t mean much. By organizing an event that is
educating our community about CO poisoning and keeping the spirit of
Carly Imbierowicz alive, I have learned that I can make a difference
in my community. That means the world to me, to my school, and most
importantly, to Carly’s family.
Knowing that I have made a difference within my community by helping Octorara get
“back on track” is one of the most rewarding experiences in
my life, and I will keep making a difference as my environment and
connections grow. While writing this essay, I have also come to
realize how lucky I am, and I will always be grateful for the
opportunities I have been given, and my determination to give back