Nothing could be finer than summer in North Carolina – plenty of sunshine and outdoor activities for area teens, who will soon have free time to fill with hours outside on the tennis court, soccer field, lake, baseball diamond or beach.
Don't forget the sunscreen and appropriate skin protection, say Myers Park High School juniors Stephen and John Haskell. The twin brothers have gained a healthy respect for the ravages of sun on unprotected skin. As part of their volunteer work with Carolinas Medical Center, the teens recently organized a fundraising effort to help fight skin cancer.
At the medical center, they saw the effects of melanoma and learned from the doctors that skin damage suffered at an early age often doesn't show up until years later. They note that younger people often spend more unprotected time in the sun, and their skin is more susceptible to damage. Research has shown that nearly 80 percent of skin damage detected in adults is the result of exposure done before a person's 18th birthday.
They approached Jenny Burke, a development officer at the CHS Foundation. The foundation manages charitable funds and supports clinical care, research and communication initiatives for the Blumenthal Cancer Center, part of the Carolinas Health System. They learned that the foundation was producing a skin cancer awareness video for distribution throughout CMS and area private schools, specifically targeting teens.
“Stephen and John informed me that they wanted to help and had an idea about a bazaar and attic sale to benefit the foundation,” said Burke. “I was really impressed with how hard they worked at organizing the event and their dedication to helping with our awareness efforts.”
The teens organized the Teen Melanoma Awareness Benefit in late April. Dozens of vendors brought sale items. Additionally, the two held a raffle with skin care-related prizes donated by vendors. The benefit raised more than $1,000.
“We just wanted to do more,” Stephen said. “It's a way that we can give back to the community.”
John agreed. “So many of our peers are really into tanning beds and going unprotected in the sun; we wanted to help take the message forward that skin cancer is so preventable. Conducting the bazaar and attic sale was a great fundraiser for the benefit of the Blumenthal. We are so fortunate to be able to help get the message out.”