Owensboro Parent sat down with outstanding teenager, Caitlyn Blandford, 13, to talk about her Academic Team project— creating cancer “care packages” for local chemotherapy patients. Caitlyn is in 7th grade at Burns Middle School and participates on the academic team, is vice president of Kentucky Youth Assembly, is a member of the Student Council, and plays JV soccer for Apollo High School. She may seem like just a normal girl, but Caitlyn is doing something a lot of people (at any age) have yet to accomplish… she is making a difference.
How did this project begin?
This project began as a competition for the Academic Team in the division of Community Problem Solving. I knew that I wanted to do a project that not only could my community relate to, but so could my family. There are many lines of cancer in my family. This means I too am at a high risk of getting diagnosed with cancer some time in my life.
What accomplishments have you made?
I have gotten about 75 bags put together and donated with the help of Beth Cecil from Owensboro Health Park, donations from Wal-Mart, Tamarack Elementary, West Louisville Elementary, and Owensboro Christian Church. Southern Oaks Elementary just collected supplies for me last week unexpectedly. I was interviewed for the Messenger Inquirer and I was put on the cover!
I placed first at state with this project and I get to go to the international competition in East Lansing, Michigan in June.
What is the next step for you?
When I am older I plan on going to either UK or Notre Dame for college. I love math, so engineering would be a good career, but I also love government.
What would you tell other teenagers like you on the importance of making a difference?
I would tell teenagers to try something that makes a difference. Maybe just helping someone bag groceries to their car. I know that after what I did I felt like a much better person and that my personality has changed for the better. I hope their’s will too.
Who has inspired you to make a difference?
People that have inspired me to make a difference are my family members and cancer survivors as well. My grandfather always volunteers and my grandma is so supportive in what we do. Plus, just cancer patients in general. Cancer patients go through pain that we could never imagine. They are true fighters in our community.
This article was originally published in the May/June issue of Owensboro Parent Magazine.