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Students’ cancer campaign honours teacher

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Three Somersfield Academy students have launched a cancer awareness campaign after the death of a “beloved” teacher.

Carissa Cook, Rhiannon Higgins and Olivia Weems are hoping to raise $5,000 through the project they started in honour of the late Reid Kempe.

The money will go to the Lymphoma Research Foundation, a non-profit organisation with specialists committed to finding a cure for the disease.

“We realised his life was important at Somersfield and needed to be remembered, and so we decided to create a project,” said Carissa, a student of Mr Kempe's for a year and a half.

“He just left after the winter break. We were told by teachers he had cancer and in the summer we were told he'd passed away.”

The former Olympic sailor taught English, humanities and Bermudian history at the Devonshire school. He died in August at the age of 64, after a six-month battle with T-cell lymphoma, a rare type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma that affects the skin.

Said Carissa: “He made the biggest difference to me. He taught me things I wouldn't otherwise have learnt about Bermuda. He taught me about dinghies and the Spirit of Bermuda and how the Bermuda flag came to be.”

The 13-year-olds are tackling the issue as part of the community and service project required by their school. They sent out e-mails and designed a T-shirt to raise awareness and created a fundraising page using the moniker Team Kempe.

“We hope that people will donate to help find a cure,” Carissa said. “We sent a lot of e-mails out, telling people what lymphoma is and what we're doing. We sent them to friends, family, businesses, teachers, classmates; to people we knew.” Mr Kempe was one of only 500,000 people with T-cell lymphoma, the teenager added.

“I knew nothing about lymphoma before except that it was a common childhood cancer,” Carissa said. “[T-cell lymphoma] is something that can happen to anyone at any time without warning.”

In their e-mail for support, the girls wrote: “While no one ever welcomes a cancer diagnosis, research is moving more quickly than ever before. Researchers around the world are dedicated to finding a cure for lymphoma, with support from government funding and initiatives led by LRF.

“Thanks to the advances in medical research, chances for recovery are better than ever. Sadly, however, our beloved teacher Mr Reid Kempe passed away of T-cell lymphoma. He was one of 500,000 people in which the disease was diagnosed. Lymphoma is the most common form of blood cancer and the third most common form of childhood cancer.

“LRF is the nation's largest non-profit organisation devoted exclusively to funding innovative research and providing people with lymphoma and healthcare professionals, with up-to-date information about this type of cancer. LRF's scientific advisory board consists of the world's leading lymphoma researchers, oncologists, and hematologists, and is unrelentingly committed to finding a cure.”

Donations to Team Kempe can be made here: www.lymphoma.org/teamlrf/teamreidkempe

Cancer awareness: Somersfield students, from left, Olivia Weems, Carissa Cook and Rhiannon Higgins, are fundraising for cancer charity Lymphoma Research Foundation as part of a school project honouring their late teacher, Reid Kempe (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
Giving back: Somersfield students, from left, Olivia Weems, Carissa Cook and Rhiannon Higgins, are fundraising for cancer charity Lymphoma Research Foundation as part of a school project honouring their late teacher, Reid Kempe (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

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Published February 25, 2016 at 8:00 am (Updated February 25, 2016 at 12:05 am)

Students’ cancer campaign honours teacher

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