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Racing to the finish

WLHS sophomore hopes to earn $50,000 for Leukemia and Lymphoma Society


TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Riley Murphy (left) hopes to earn the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Student of the Year award as part of her fundraising efforts in honor of her friend, Liz Lufurno, who battled stage four Hodgkins Lymphoma and is now in remission. As soon as her close friend was diagnosed with stage four Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, in September 2015, West Linn High School sophomore Riley Murphy knew she had to do something.

As Murphy’s friend, 16-year old Liz Lufurno, went through five cycles of intensive chemotherapy, Murphy’s first move was to put together a T-shirt fundraiser. She raised $5,000 from that alone, and that success set the table for a much bigger move: running for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s “Student of the Year” honor.

“(The T-shirt fundraiser) was kind of the first thing and then once I learned about this whole competition I got more interested,” Murphy said.

The Student of the Year challenge takes place over the course of about eight weeks, as students honor a local patient who is either battling the disease or in remission by raising as many funds as possible. The student with the most money raised at the end of the challenge earns “Student of the Year” honors for their local chapter.

Participants must be nominated by someone else, and Murphy was nominated by a fellow WLHS student who knew how close she was with Lufurno. This year’s challenge began March 4 and is set to end May 14.

“$50,000 is our overall goal,” Murphy said. “If we get to $50,000, we can specify where the money goes.” Murphy wants her funding to allow more people to receive the same chemotherapy trial as Liz, she said.

As Murphy and Lufurno work toward that goal, alongside others from “Liz’s Army,” they can do so with cautious optimism: In January, scans revealed that Lufurno was in remission.

“It was a little before (learning I was in remission) that Riley was reached out to by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society to run for Student of the Year,” Lufurno said. “And it just kind of gained speed.”

Muphy’s efforts are primarily focused on an upcoming event at the Stafford Hills Club in Tualatin: the Liz-Strong Tennis Fundraiser May 9.

“It’s going to be a tennis mixer, just a round-robin type of thing,” Murphy said. “And then after it’s going to be a social with a raffle.”

Beyond that event, the pair will also hold fundraisers at Burgerville in the coming weeks, though the exact dates and times have yet to be set. The effort will culminate with a regional “grand gala” May 14, during which the Student of the Year will be named.

“The grand gala on May 14 celebrates the efforts and announces how much money was raised, and the Student of the Year,” Murphy said. “There’s a Man and Woman of the Year as well.”

Get involved

To learn more or make a donation, visit events.lls.org/pages/oswim/SOY2016OR/rmurphy.

Patrick Malee can be reached at 503-636-1281 Ext. 106 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..