Students of the Year Chicago

Maya Gray | Miracle Maya

Miracle Maya's Campaign for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society

Jan 24, 2019

Cancer shouldn't have its power. 

It’s a nasty, mean, manipulative little b$%&* that gets into people’s bodies, and it won’t stop until it takes over every last good cell and destroys a life. Cancer is like Voldemort. But that’s almost insulting to Voldemort.  

As many of you know, when I was 8 years old, cancer tried doing it’s thing to me, in the particular form of leukemia. But we stopped it. We killed IT. But we couldn't do it on our own. We needed a very powerful weapon. To carry on my Harry Potter theme, we needed a Sword of Gryffindor to appear out of nowhere so that we could slay the monster.  

And it did. The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society has been funding scientists, pursuing the smartest ideas, and hunting down this killer since 1949. The single greatest advance in chemotherapy today, immunotherapy, was funded by LLS more than a dozen years ago, when it was just a wild idea in some very smart person’s head.  

LLS is the reason I am alive, and I will be forever grateful to them. And, in turn, I want to help LLS. Kids are getting sick every day. This monster is still stalking. We’ve gotten better at curing cancer, but people still die.  I believe we can save them. And people still get really sick while they are going through chemotherapy. I believe we can make the treatments shorter and gentler.  

I believe that because I believe in LLS. So much so, that I am participating in their Students of the Year fundraising campaign, which is an opportunity for high school students across the country to raise money for LLS through sponsorships, auction items, events, and emails like this one. It’s a competition, so there is both a state and a national winner.  

I’m not gonna lie. I want to win. I want to cast my own spell and create a miracle. But I can’t do it alone.

I have set an ambitious goal. I am asking you to help me. I am asking you to give to LLS on behalf of my team, whatever you can. I’ll take your couch change. I’ll also take a big check! And I am asking you to ask your companies to match your gift or make a separate donation.  

Harry Potter needed his friends to help him kill Voldemort. Just call me Harry Potter for the next seven weeks, because I need you to help me create a miracle.


Wishing you only the best magic,

Maya Gray

Cancer Defeater and Miracle Maker (but only with your help)


A Photo Journey

Feb 04, 2019

When I was a small child I looked like this:

I was a normal, healthy, and happy kid who knew no pain. 

When I turned eight, which was the year I got diagnosed with both celiac and Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, I looked like this:

Suddenly, I hadn't gained weight or grown in a year. This is NOT a good sign for an EIGHT year old.

Three weeks after I got diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, I looked like this:

I remember standing in front of the mirror one day, and thinking my weight gain was the weirdest thing and just saying, "Wow, I look fat."

Here I am with a mohawk (and might I say I look totally dope) right before I shaved all of my hair off of my head:


I'm still fat. I also go to the fridge every night around 1am and eat American Cheese. It's not a totally bad life.

Here I am completely bald! Thankfully my head is a good shape.

So long wonderful hair........HELLO LOLLIPOP!!!!!!

Finally, FINALLY, I left the worst stages of cancer and got to be a kid. Here I am at my birthday party:

This is honestly my new favorite photo because I was an awesome kid!!! I mean who wear pajamas, blows out their candles WHILE DOING Jacob's Ladder on strings, and gets GLUTEN FREE BROWNIE TOWER!?!?!?!?!?!??! Shoutout to Michelle Holland for making this picture even better than it already is!!! 

Also I'm wearing a crown. I WAS THE QUEEN!!!!!!

Flash forward and here I am in the spring of 2018:

And here is my favorite photo of myself, my dog, and a corner of my mom's face:



  • Russel Miron

    This gift is in support of Maya Gray-Team Miracle Maya.

  • The Hartnett Family

    Hi Maya - I absolutely will support you, especially as you're Michael's daughter. I also committed finding cures for this disease as I have several adult friends battling blood diseases too-- some more successfully than others -- so I really appreciate you doing this for your own story and for all others too. Quite the high goal..... -- I hope your Dad is really kicking in too..... Always stay involved and do other LLS events too. Rob Hartnett

  • Eric Langshur

    Way to go Maya!

  • Stephanie Stiefel

    Dear Maya! You have already stayed the monster of leukemia and lymphoma with your commitment and focus! Thanks for including me and good luck in your fundraising goal towards ultimately curing this horrible disease. Hugs, Stephanie

  • Craige Stout

    Maya: Thank you for taking the time to raise funds for such a worthy cause.

  • Joseph Feldman

    Maya, You're an inspiration in many ways. It's wonderful how you've never forgotten the many people who've made a difference in your life and in the lives of so many others. Continue to make a difference through your words and deeds. With best regards, Joe Feldman

  • Kranias Family

    Way to go Maya!!!

  • Ronald Miller

    It is great that you are doing this!

  • Anonymous

    Go Maya! MK

  • Wayne Boulais

    Maya - happy to help you in your effort to support LLS and their research! All the best - Wayne

  • John & Liz O’Connor

    As members of Dumbledore’s Army, we stand with you in your roles as Cancer Defeater and Miracle Maker.

  • Phyllis Brady

    To everyone who has been stricken with this disease...keep fighting!

  • Susan Schoenberger

    Donating to Miracle Team Maya Gray. Best of luck!!!

  • Paranikas Family

    Go Team Maya, you are an inspiration to all of us!

  • Jenny and Michael Kelber

    Way to go Maya!!!! We are so proud of you for doing this and helping others!!

  • Anonymous

    Go Miracle Team Maya Gray - we are cheering you on!!

  • Patrice Scelzo

    Good luck Maya!

  • Robert Gerber

    Maya - We are happy to support you and this wonderful organization! The Gerber's

  • Sydney Hamway

    Good luck Maya!

  • Kevin Weinstein

    Keep on pushing. You're quite the inspiration. No wonder your dad is so proud of you.

  • Jeremie Bacon

    Nice work Maya. Very proud of you for your efforts to help others!

  • Gwen and Rich Glew

    Maya, great job with your letter. Keep fighting that nasty b$%&* cancer. --The Glews

  • Marcus Wedner

    Outstanding appeal and a great cause. Ambitious fundraising goal!

  • david mendelson

    Go Maya Go! Blythe and David Mendelson

  • Jill Gracia

    Good Luck Maya!

  • Ron Weiss

    Way to go Maya!! Good Luck!!

  • Stacy Kahan

    You are such a strong and beautiful young woman. Strength and courage make us all successful. Bravo!

  • Gregg Kaplan

    Maya, so happy to support you and this great cause! Good luck on reaching your goal.

  • Drew Marticke

    Great work, Maya!

  • John Gallop

    Great work Maya and good luck reaching your goal!!! John and Caryn Gallop

  • The Mitchell family

    We LOVE that you have taken time out of the very busy work of being a teenager to help others. Yeah You! xo The Mitchell family

  • Annmarie Neumeier

    So proud of you Maya!

  • Scott and Sara Fisher

    Go Maya!! Your strength and courage are inspiring. Scott & Sara Fisher

  • Margot Paisley

    Way to go Maya. You are a champion!

  • Mark Achler

    Sending lots of love and support - The Achlers

  • Lon Chow

    Good luck Maya!

  • Rob and Jan Zimelis

    Maya: You inspire us...We admire your strength and devotion to help others by finding a cure for his disease that touches all of our lives. Jan and Rob Zimelis.

  • Arlene & Marty Mankes

    Thank G-d for talented scientists and medical professionals who have reached such dramatic heights in fighting cancer!

  • Heiji Black

    We love you, Maya, and we're so inspired by your willingness to help organizations like LLS. xo The Black Family

  • Samet Gray

    We love you, Maya! -Samet and Adam

  • Hailey Hurd & Family

    Go Maya! So proud of you!

  • Britta Hanson

    Maya you are incredible in every way!

  • Robin and Peter Marks

    You are an incredible person, Maya! We love you!!! Love, Peter, Robin and Madeline

  • Josh Leavitt

    Great job, Maya!

  • Jeffrey Gray

    You bring happiness to your family

  • Brad Holland

    Way to go girl!

  • Lawrence Berlin

    Best of luck Maya!

  • Dana & Seth Singerman

    Way to go Maya (aka the world’s best babysitter). You are such an impressive young woman!

  • michael alper & Helyn Goldenberg

    In honor of Maya Gray's courage, commitment, and caring spirit. Helyn Goldenberg & Michael Alper

  • Jane Goldenberg

    In honor of Maya Gray, whose courage continues to inspire.



  • The Baker McBride Family

    The Bakers love you Maya! You have always been an inspirational force in our lives. Go fundraising!

  • The Rubinsteins

    You can do it, Maya! Happy to support you. The Rubinsteins

  • Suzanne and Dan Kanter

    So proud of you, and of this amazing endeavor, Maya!

  • The Chu Family

    Way to go, Miracle Maya! Our nephew Colt Rever was the Boy of the Year last year in Raleigh. Hope to see him as strong, determined and committed as you when he's your age!

  • Barbara Danelson & Stephen Siegel

    Maya, continue to build and grow in all you do. It will be an amazing journey... "There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age." XXOO BarbarSteve.

  • Kristi Ross

    Maya - You are an so many ways! Keep changing the world!!

  • Anonymous

    In honor Maya Gray

  • Valuation Research Corporation

    Honored to help!!

  • Shroff Family

    Maya, wishing you the best and hoping you reach your goal. Thanks for helping to move this research further! All the best, the Shroffs

  • The Graham Family

    Thank you for working to raise money for such an important cause, Maya! You are an inspiration!

  • Jeremy DuBow - NDH

    Thank you for what you are doing Maya! Thank you for sharing your story. Regards, -The staff of NDH

  • Julie and Greg Goldstein

    Way to go Maya!! Good luck... The Goldstein family

  • The Gracias Family

    Way to go Maya! Keep up your strength and desire to help others!

  • The Collens Family

    Maya, you are inspiring! Congrats on this tremendous effort. All the best, Steven & Caralynn Collens

  • Beth Hollenberg

    Keep Fighting, Maya!

  • The Loesch Family

    Go Maya!

  • Holly Maloney

    You are a true inspiration, Maya! Best of luck!

  • Martha Gardner

    In honor of my nephew Aidan who lost his battle. May this research and Maya's efforts ensure that others win theirs.

  • Anonymous

    Dear Maya, I have the honor and privilege of participating with your brilliant and lovely mother in book group. Reading your account of your journey has provided me with another opportunity to to be inspired, the apple does not fall far from the tree. Good Luck and thanks for kicking b$%&!

  • The Aixala/Campbell Family

    Maya- an impressive goal for an impressive girl! Way to go - #deathtovoldemort

  • Lara Shiffman

    Good Luck Maya!!!!

  • Karen Wieser Silverman

    Truly Maya you are an inspiration!! Wishing you the best in achieving your goal.

  • Alex Ross

    Congrats on beating this nasty stuff!

  • The Buttercups

    Dear Maya - We are extremely proud of you for being so brave against formidable circumstances. You are an inspiration to us all. Shine your brightest light and stay strong!

  • The Buday Family

    You are beautiful, Maya! Love, Tam, Robert, Nick and Cece


    Dear Maya, You are an inspiration! We remember so clearly how hard you fought, and the unwavering dedication of your parents in your healing and recovery. Thank you for raising awareness and funds for such an important cause, and for spreading your magic! Love, Courtney & Guy Comer "It's important to remember we all have magic inside us. " -- J.K. Rowling

  • Milly Terzic

    You are a strong and brave survivor! You are an inspiration to others!

  • Kristen Mitchell

    Way to go Maya!

  • Mary Beth Canfield

    So worthwhile... thank you for leading the charge!

  • Lee Eulgen

    Great work on raising awareness and support, Maya!

  • Tricoci Family

    You rock, Maya!

  • Wendy Heltzer

    Maya, you are a true inspiration - thank you for all that you do to improve the lives of children and cancer patients. The Heltzers

  • Anonymous

    You should be very proud of what you are doing!


    Way to go, Maya! You are an inspiration!


    Wonderful job! Rachel, Lucy, Ruby and Beatrice

  • Sidney and Ricki Gray

    So proud of you. Sidney and Ricki Gray

  • Desiree Vargas Wrigley

    Maya, you are an inspiration! Keep up the great work! ~The Wrigleys

  • Jennifer Miller

    Maya, You are so inspiring, especially to me as I battle breast cancer this year. Much love and congratulations on what you have accomplished here. Jennifer

  • Harry B Rosenberg, Jr and Rachel Dvorken

    We love Maya!! XOXO Rachel and Harry

  • Ross and Heather Siegel

    Maya, congrats on making a difference in so many people's lives... You are an inspiration!

  • Steve Miller

    Go Maya!

  • Mike and Amy Davidoff

    Thank you for sharing your story Maya. I am sure you are an inspiration to many kids who will follow you down this very challenging path.

  • Amrit Singh

    So proud of you Maya! Singh Family

  • Anonymous

    Maya, you are an inspiration to millions. Keep your resilience and spirit always!

  • Errett Van Nice

    Way to go Maya!

  • Greg & Kelli Teegen

    Best of luck Maya, Michael and family!

  • Vera And Joe Prus

    Love you peanut!

  • Lyndon Taylor

    Very proud of you Maya. You're an awesome young lady.

  • Ralph Shayne

    In honor of my Aunt Elena, who had her own battle with Voldemort. Keep up the fight.

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