WTOP Top Kid: As family battles cancer, Loudoun teen leads campaign to raise money for others

After the family of a Loudoun County, Virginia, Woodgrove High School junior received two heartbreaking cancer diagnoses, she didn’t sit back and watch.

WTOP Top Kid Sarah Rubin, who’s leading cancer fundraising efforts, with her mom Gina. (Courtesy Sarah Rubin)

Instead, she wanted to make sure other families didn’t have to suffer as well, and she’s been leading fundraising efforts to raise money for those who need it most.

Sixteen-year-old Sarah Rubin’s mom and sister were both diagnosed with cancer in 2015 — just six weeks apart.

Rubin told WTOP’s Melissa Howell “it was a crazy experience to say the least. And I just decided that I didn’t want to have to watch other families go through stuff like that.”

“I needed to do something to make myself feel like I could be in control,” she said.

It started when Rubin’s mom met a woman named Tracy Robinson at the clinic where she was getting chemo treatment. Tracy introduced Rubin’s mom to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Rubin said she was brought on board the LLS’ Man and Woman of the Year campaign a few years ago, where she “got to help her plan all these events, and do all of these amazing things, which, honestly, I fell in love. I mean, I love just working with them and just being a part of something bigger than myself.”

Tracy’s campaign raised over $100,000, which Rubin said she can’t take credit for, but she was there helping.

Then, in 2019, Rubin was a team member for Student of the Year, where she raised a little over $7,000. Now, Rubin’s Student of the Year campaign, which ends Friday, is close to raising $25,000.

Sarah Rubin’s latest Student of the Year campaign has raised nearly $25,000. (Courtesy Sarah Rubin)

Her efforts have been spurred by seeing how much the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society has done for others.

“Seeing the money going to people that really need it, and that it really changes their life. And it changed mine. Because I was very lucky with my family that we had so much community support, and so many people,” Rubin said.

Her neighbors helped her family with bills, brought them dinner and even took care of Rubin and her brother when her mom and sister were in the hospital.

But Rubin said she knows “not everybody gets that lucky.”

And she wants people to know that every dollar counts for fundraising.

“A $25 donation, or a $10 donation, or a $1,000 donation … every dollar will go to someone who really needs it, and it adds up in the end. And it’s just amazing to me how $1 can turn into $1,000 in a couple days,” Rubin said.

Hard work is the key.

“Honestly, it sounds so cliché to say it, I guess,” Rubin said. “But if you work hard and really work your butt off and try your hardest, there will be somebody there to help you, and you will find somebody that will be just as passionate, or find many people in my case, that are willing to help and willing to do it with you.”

She hopes to pursue a career with a nonprofit helping others — a mission her mom and sister are proud of.

WTOP’s Melissa Howell contributed to this report.

This article is part of WTOP’s TOP Kids program, where kids in the D.C. area are recognized for the amazing things they do. The winners are awarded $500. The program is sponsored by Northwest Federal Credit Union. Nominate a TOP Kid you know here, and view other winners here.

Will Vitka

William Vitka is a Digital Editor and reporter for WTOP.com. He's been in the news industry for over a decade. Before joining WTOP, he worked for CBS News, Stuff Magazine, The New York Post and wrote a variety of books—about a dozen of them, with more to come.

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