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AHS Youth Leadership honored for cancer research fundraiser

Students from Austin High School's Youth Leadership have been named as the Association of Fundraising Professionals' Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy for 2012.

The group, led by adviser Emily Hovland, was honored at an awards luncheon last week in Rochester. Hovland and five students from the group attended the event to be honored.

"When I found out, I was very excited and very excited for our students to be honored," Hovland said. "They put so much work into each year."

Youth Leadership was nominated for the award by Tim Ruzek, communications representative for the Hormel Institute, for its work in putting together the "Strides for a Cure" 5K walk/run, which has been held for two years. Youth Leadership raised $2,500 in support of the Institute's breast cancer research through the 5K this past year. It was the second year of the event. The student club has donated $5,000 overall for breast cancer research at the Institute.

"For a student annual fundraising event to benefit cancer research is just really admirable," Ruzek said. "It's just really great to see high school students who care about making a difference in the fight against cancer."


Gail Dennison, director of public relations at the Hormel Institute, is part of the Association of Fundraising Professionals and she had asked Ruzek to think of some local groups that had raised money for cancer research to nominate for the youth award, Ruzek said.

This year's race was held at Todd Park.

AHS Youth Leadership is a group that's dedicated to community-wide service. They've raised money for local organizations through the Mr. Austin pageant at the high school, gone trick-or-treating for cans and done bell ringing for the holidays.

The "Strides for a Cure" got started because the students were interested in doing a race for a cause, Hovland said. They start with planning in the late fall by contacting businesses that they hope will support them, and they also work on promoting the event. Then there's race day, where they help make it all come together.

"It's pretty amazing what the kids have been able to do," Hovland said.

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