Through their close friendship and shared athleticism, two New Braunfels teens have teamed up to raise $85,000 for blood cancer charity.

For their hard work and determination, juniors Lance Beeghley of New Braunfels High School and Parker Joseph of New Braunfels Christian Academy have been named Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) Students of the Year for the South Central Region from Texas.

The duo were honored in a ceremony Wednesday morning at New Braunfels Christian Academy where they were joined by friends, family and program representatives to celebrate the accomplishment. Each year, the LLS Student of the Year fundraising campaign recruits high school students across the country to raise money for the nonprofit. Funds raised go to research into alternative treatments, information and education, and blood cancer advocacy.

For teenagers, it’s a cause close to their hearts.

“We’ve both, you know, first-hand experience with it – (Beeghley’s) grandfather and my mother both had cancer,” Joseph said. “We know what it’s like not knowing if they’re going to make it.”

Cases of blood-related cancers are diagnosed every 3 minutes in the United States, and by 2021 more than 180,000 people are expected to be diagnosed with leukemia, lymphoma, or myeloma.

The seven-week leadership and development program requires its participants to devote their time and energy to extracurricular and extracurricular activities to raise funds — and that’s exactly what the team did.

Beeghley and Joseph began introducing the fundraising business to friends and family, building their confidence along the way, and eventually went door to door asking for donations.

“It was really cool to see how eager these people, these families, that we knew were to share money with us and help this cause,” Joseph said.

The dynamic partners have collaborated with local small businesses and corporations for larger donations, and even created a 2-minute video to help promote the cause.

The fundraising didn’t stop there.

Thinking outside the box and more inside the court, the creative duo tapped into their enthusiasm for athletics by hosting a basketball clinic for local youth, which turned out to be a slam dunk .

“Me and (Joseph) grew up playing sports together, so we had chemistry together just working as a team, so it was easy,” Beeghley said. “We can use our love for sport in this campaign with little kids to share a strong message with something we all love.”

Their fundraising efforts resulted in a sizable donation for the charity and even won them the Research Portfolio Award in honor of the LLS Children’s Initiative.

Through this experience, the couple learned public speaking skills by interacting with the community and businesses when asking for donations, and learned more about the charity and its fight against the blood cancer.

“We’re just super proud of them,” Elizabeth Joseph said. “It was really just that everyone was very generous and believed in the cause and supported these kids.”

As part of the regional title, Beeghley and Joseph also have the opportunity to nominate one of the organization’s fellowships.

In addition, high school students volunteer their time to mentor the program’s next local group as they take on the cause in hopes of repeat success.