Rising eleventh-grader Kosette Koons-Perdikis is proving that one person can make a big difference in the fight against cancer.
She raised $287,275 dollars from 244 donors to fund cancer research through the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Student Visionaries of the Year campaign, breaking a local fundraising record in the process. Her fundraising team, Team Virginia Union For a Cure, placed third nationally. The team, which included her club soccer teammates as well as fellow Lions Danny Lobsenz ‘25 and Thomas Ludecke ‘25, raised a total of $450,874, earning the title of Student Visionaries of the Year Winners for Mid-Atlantic region.
“It really showed me the impact that I can have when I’m passionate about something,” Koons-Perdikis said.
The Student Visionaries of the Year campaign is a seven-week fundraising challenge where students raise funds and awareness for LLS's mission to cure blood cancers and improve the quality of lives of patients and their families. Fundraising for LLS runs in the family – Koons-Perdikis’s father, Alex Perdikis, participated in the LLS Man of the Year campaign in 2014, and her older sister, Kaeden, competed in the LLS Students of the Year campaign during the 2020-2021 school year.
Koons-Perdikis said she was inspired by LLS’s commitment to steering donations toward goals that directly benefit patients, such as the science behind curing cancer. The cause of cancer research is personal to Koons-Perdikis and her family as well. Her mother and her grandfather have both recovered from their own cancer diagnoses.
“It really opened my eyes to the impact that a cancer diagnosis has on a family,” she said. “Medical issues are so big and severe emotionally and physically. The opportunity to give back to such an important cause enhanced my motivation.”
During her Student Visionaries of the Year campaign, Koons-Perdikis sent weekly personalized emails to 500 people who were connected to her and her family and who she hoped would be willing to donate to LLS. She did all of this while keeping up with a busy schedule of schoolwork, club soccer practices and games, and her leadership of the i2i women’s empowerment club.
“I didn’t just say ‘Dear Ms. Johnson, I said, ‘How is your daughter doing? I heard she is going to ‘this school’ for college next year.’ It was very specific and relatable, and I think that made people feel really connected to the cause, and that was honestly what differentiated me from everyone else,” she said. “It took so much time, but it was worth it, because I was able to raise so much money for such a great cause.”
When making her pitch to potential corporate sponsors, Koons-Perdikis said that she leveraged skills she cultivated at St. Andrew’s.
“Learning rhetorical skills in English class, how to emotionally persuade and statistically persuade, gave me a good balance when I was presenting,” she said. “It helped me show my audience why this is important, captivate them with my ‘why,’ and then expand on their ‘why.’”
Her persistence paid off – she raised a total of $287,275, breaking the all-time Washington, D.C. individual fundraising record.
“I became so passionate about this cause the more I put my work ethic into it, and it showed me how much I can do,” she said. “It showed me how good of a leader I can be and how well I can motivate people. My community also blew me away by their willingness to give, which showed me that the collective is more powerful than any one person.”
Next year, Koons-Perdikis will mentor and encourage other students who are participating in the Student Visionaries of the Year campaign as a chair for the Mid-Atlantic region. Students who are interested in learning more about how they can get involved in a future Student Visionaries of the Year campaign can visit https://www.llsstudentvisionaries.org/