JACKSON – Liberty High School students Molly Staffordsmith and Alex Lanier wanted to make a difference with their Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA) project. Their fundraiser to raise funds for young people with cancer did just that.
DECA, founded in 1946, prepares high school and college age students to be leaders and entrepreneurs.
The group’s programs and activities are constantly evolving to utilize the latest technology and apply cutting edge educational research, according to its website.
Staffordsmith and Lanier raised nearly $1,000 for the cause of supporting teens with cancer and other illnesses.
They raised $900 as part of Mission: Victorious, specifically for the Alicia Rose Victorious Foundation, an organization that raises funds for teenagers with cancer and other illnesses. They were recognized earlier this spring at the statewide DECA conference held in Atlantic City.
The Foundation was named after Alicia Rose DiNatale, who was diagnosed at 16-years-old with adenocarcinoma, a rare form of cancer.
The teen was constantly treated in and out of a hospital. She never had the opportunity to be in a school play or attend many of the student events that were offered.
Providing support and encouragement is the mission objective of the Foundation which it institutes through establishing teen lounges, social events and other activities designed to improve the quality of life for adolescents with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses.
Staffordsmith said that while the NJ DECA program picked their charitable cause she and Alex were able to determine how the fundraising process would go and held an airpod fundraiser that raised most of the money.
“The fundraiser was done between March and January,” Lanier said. He added that some people even contributed afterwards.
Special Education teacher Tripti Desai serves as the high school’s DECA advisor.
Lanier and Staffordsmith described DECA as having had a very positive impact on their career goals and enjoyment of Jackson Liberty High School.
“It is a global club of college and high school students and you are able to pick from a wide range of topics from marketing to business,” Lanier said.
Staffordsmith added that “there are a million topics and there are regional, state and national competitions. It also gives you a chance to make friends and learn a lot.”
When asked what they learned most from their four years in the high school DECA program, they both said that public speaking was an important part of it.
“Writing, public speaking, networking,” Lanier said.
“I learned how to think more quickly and to accept constructive criticism a bit better as that had been a problem,” Staffordsmith said.
In addition to attending the Atlantic City State Conference, the pair also attended the DECA national conference in Orlando.
Staffordsmith will be attending the University of Alabama studying commerce and business with a minor in international business next fall while Lanier will be attending the University of Delaware studying finance.
While Staffordsmith’s university does not currently have a DECA chapter, she said she’s tempted to try and form one.
Lanier said he’s interested in joining the DECA chapter at his future school.
DECA is a not-for-profit student organization. with more than 215,000 members in the United States, the District of Columbia, Canada, China, Germany, Guam, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Spain.
The United States Congress, the United States Department of Education and state, district and international departments of education authorize DECA’s program which are organized into two student divisions each with programs designed to address the learning styles, interest and focus of its members.
The High School Division includes 200,000 members in 3,500 schools. The Collegiate Division includes over 15,000 members in 275 colleges and universities.