Student Visionaries of the Year Chicago

Avery Gerdes | Outshining Cancer

Avery's Student Visionaries of the Year Fundraiser

Jan 02, 2024

Hello! My name is Avery Gerdes; I am a senior at Sycamore High School. I am a candidate in this year's Student Visionaries of the Year campaign and am leading a group of wonderful visionaries!

This campaign is dear to my heart because when I was three years old, I was diagnosed with leukemia. I battled for four years before I was deemed cancer-free! To which I am now ten years cancer-free! My family went through many hardships, many long nights, and so much worry along my journey. Much of which I did not realize because of my young age during my treatment.

Although my treatment with chemotherapy is complete and I am in remission, my journey is not over.  Each year, I go back for my S.T.A.R. appointment. At this appointment, the doctors look at my blood work to make sure all my numbers are in a good range and that my body is in good health. Our team's goal is to give everyone with cancer these same opportunities and to be able to enter into remission to have those S.T.A.R. appointments (or the equivalent). Outshining Cancer is our mantra throughout the campaign because we want patients to outshine the darkness that cancer creates, just as stars in the sky outshine the darkness of night.

Going through treatment at such a young age, I was unaware of how many people impacted my life, especially at LLS. This campaign is a way to make sure others don’t have to go through all the hardships my family and I went through, but also to give back to those who have given so much to help me! Help my team and I raise money for this amazing mission while also advocating for awareness!

Visionaries look to the future—and see infinite possibility.
They challenge the status quo—and make the impossible possible.
They boldly imagine a better world – and lead the charge to create it.

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society was built on that same vision - of a better world - one without blood cancers.

I am a visionary; I have a vision for a world without cancer, but I need your help.

This year, I’m proud to be a part of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) Student Visionaries of the Year Campaign, working to raise as much as possible for LLS’s mission.

As a global leader in the fight against blood cancer, LLS:

  • Funds cutting-edge research leading to breakthroughs in immunotherapy, genomics and personalized medicine that are improving and saving the lives of patients
  • Provides free education and support for blood cancer patients and families, including personalized, one-on-one support, assistance with identifying and enrolling in clinical trials, and more.
  • Mobilizes thousands of advocates to drive policy changes that accelerate the development of new cancer treatments and break down barriers to care.

Please consider joining this fight by making a donation. All donations are greatly appreciated and tax-deductible. Please visit my website often and tell friends who would also like to donate!

Thanks to your support, my efforts will help ensure this generation is the last to see cancer.

On behalf of blood cancer patients everywhere, thank you!

For more information about LLS, please visit




  • Jen Atkinson

    I remember your journey, Avery, and I am happy to support you in fundraising for such an important cause. Tell your momma I said hi. XOXO

  • Elisa Rubeck

    Avery you are an amazing young woman! It’s been a true pleasure watching you grow up! You have such a bright future ahead. We love you! XOXO The Rubecks

  • Craig Fritz

    Avery you have become an amazing ambassador! Thanks for your work to make a difference in other’s lives.

  • Jim & Lynn Glavan

    No child should have to experience cancer, you have truly been an inspiration throughout your journey! We hope you achieve your goal!!

  • Ralph Miner

    Avery you are the best

  • Ken and Jane Dargatz

    So happy for you! Congratulations! Praying you make your goal! Way to make a difference!

  • Patton family

    Love ya Avery!

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for including us in your campaign, Avery!

  • Bob & Julie Breidenbach

    What an impressive young lady you are, Avery! We have no doubt that you'll reach your goal. BRAVO to YOU!

  • Sean and Tracy McMahon

    We are honored to support to the cause and proud of your efforts! Love - Sean, Tracy, Ryan, Quinn and Drew McMahon

  • Kristin & Scott Miller Family

    Avery, we are so happy that our prayers and those of so many of your family and friends were answered when you fought your battle against Leukemia. We are proud to make this gift in your honor!

  • The Gales

    We are very proud of you, Avery! From, the Gales

  • Josie Heins

    Congratulations & best wishes to you, Avery! You have grown into a lovely, talented, focused young woman & I know your parents & brother are so proud of you. ( Please be sure to give a hug to your mom for me. We were Masters Program partners several years ago.) Again, congratulations! 🩷. Josie Heins

  • Janis Tsugawa Jasper

    Good luck, Avery. Your mom and I go way back so I am so happy for you all that you’re doing well.

  • Tara & Patrick Clifford

    Proud of you Avery. Impressive way to give back. ??

  • Julie Hardt

    Good luck Avery and team! Love, Julie Hardt and family

  • Dawn Prinsen

    Great work, Avery!!

  • Lisa Esposito

    Avery you are an inspiration. So happy you are thriving and doing so well. How wonderful of you to be giving back & helping others ❤️

  • Dave & Sheri Emmert

    Thank you for sharing your story Avery. And thank you for continuing to make a difference and supporting such a wonderful organization. You have such a bright future! Good luck in your fundraising goals!

  • Wendy Hilgers

    Very proud to support you and your team Avery!! I believe in your dedication!

  • Anonymous

    Best wishes! Tell your mom and dad hi!

  • Mary Spitznagle

    In honor of Avery Gerdes, we love you!

  • Katie Peska

    This is to honor Avery Gerdes.

  • Jamie, Tina, Alex and Lara Phillips

    So proud of you!

  • Hannah Speer

    Avery! Thank you for giving back and helping others! So proud of you and the team!

  • Jackie and Tom Bukovits

    Good Luck Avery! I hope you exceed your goal!

  • Pandora E. Moffatt


  • Brooke Wright

    Avery you make me proud every day!

  • Patrick & Krista Benassi

    Go Avery! So proud of who you've become and so thankful to have been a part of some of your journey through camp. We love you!

  • Matthew Parks

    Avery - you are a wonderful young lady with a bright future!

  • Sarah and Isaac Ward

    The world is a better place with you in it Avery! We love you very much and are so proud of the work you are doing.

  • Scott Saxe

    Good luck with your campaign and thank you for your commitment to our mission!

  • Margaret Mosca

    This is from Nora Mosca

  • Amy Moss

    Avery Strong! An amazing human making a difference

  • Clarissa Danna

    Avery we are so proud of you! You are smart, strong, beautiful & passionate about all good things! This world is brighter because of you! Happy 18th Birthday warrior! 💪🏼🥳🎉??

  • The Beckam North Foundation and the Fillipps

    Thank you for raising awareness and fundraising for LLS!

  • Pam Nelson

    Avery I'm so proud of YOU and know you are a shining example in everything you do! Way to go and keep up the amazing job :)

  • Kelsey Musich

    Proud of you, Avery. Miss you, E. Spring is coming.

  • Cindy Price

    Avery, your story is one of amazing courage, caring, and dedication. Thank you for your effort to bring awareness to lymphoma and leukemia. I recently lost my beloved partner to multiple myeloma, another blood cancer, so my donation is given in hope of helping anyone who is fighting a blood cancer.

  • Heidi Gerdes and SMS

    Sycamore Middle School did an outstanding job during their Change Wars! #makingadifference

  • Jayna Bartelt

    For SMS Change Wars

  • Michelle Bowman

    You inspire me to be a better person, for myself, my family and my communities.

  • The Vanatta Family

    Avery - I love that you are giving back to something so personal and important to you. You are a true light in this world!!

  • Nancy Arnold

    So proud of you and your fight to cure Leukemia!

  • Bridget Funderburg

    What an amazing story you have Avery! Awesome opportunity you have to raise funds for this horrific disease.

Contact us by email or call 888.LLS.7177.