Del Mar resident Chelsea Street was diagnosed with leukemia at 18 months old and was in treatment at Rady Children’s Hospital until she was three. Now an adult, she is on a mission to raise $100,000 for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society. Through her campaign, “$100K by May,” she is fighting for a world where parents receive support after they hear “leukemia” and sharing her story so the thousands of children battling cancer can have hope.
At 23, Street is the youngest nominee ever for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society San Diego chapter’s Woman of the Year.
The Man and Woman of the Year campaign is a 10-week fundraising competition between community leaders nominated by their peers to raise funds in support of blood cancer research and patient services.
The next event in Street’s campaign is “Padres vs. Cancer” on Friday, April 22. The event is a 7:30 p.m. Padres game against the St. Louis Cardinals — every $25 ticket includes entry into a giveaway prizes with $10 going back to the Leukemia Lymphoma Society (LLS). For an additional $20 donation straight to LLS, there will be a pre-party at the Omni Hotel with more giveaways, a small silent auction, appetizers and a percentage of the bar sales will go toward LLS.
“It has been such a great experience,” Street said of her campaign so far. “It has been a great way to connect my story with an amazing number of people that I’ve met who have been impacted by cancer, some who have lost loved ones…It’s good for me and those people to see that there is movement, that there is a fight.”
Cancer-free since she was 3 years old, Street said she does not remember anything about her treatment, not the 14 surgeries, the catheters that were pulled in and out of her heart, “more than any little girl should have to go through,” her father, John, said in a video about her treatment. She is a survivor, but in many ways she cannot relate to other survivors’ stories, save for the scars that remain on her body and remembering being teased as a child because the cancer treatment caused many of her teeth to fall out.
She said she wouldn’t change a thing though — it’s probably a blessing that she cannot remember the painful treatments.
“When I was growing up, my family was very forward thinking and never talked about the past, we were always looking ahead,” Street said.
When she got to college at UC San Diego, she started to engage more as a cancer survivor, feeling that her past was important and feeling grateful for all of the people who fought with her.
As a sophomore at UC San Diego she became involved in Relay for Life and raised funds for the American Cancer Society. When she studied “abroad” at Dartmouth College, she got involved with the Make-A-Wish Foundation and led campus fundraising campaigns.
When she was asked to do the Man and Woman of the Year Campaign, she couldn’t turn it down.
“It’s such a great way to rally people around an awesome cause,” Street said.
Her efforts with Leukemia Lymphoma Society have brought up a lot of emotions for her parents. They were 28 years old when Chelsea was diagnosed and she cannot imagine what they went through taking care of a baby in treatment.
Her father recently posted a video on her fundraising Facebook page that he made in 1995 about dealing with Chelsea’s illness. Her mother, too, six weeks into her campaign, has opened up about what she went through.
“It’s been good for the whole family to look back and get some healing from that and make it a positive experience,” Street said.
In her fundraising efforts, Street hopes to reach as many different demographics as she can. In addition to the Padres games, other events include a Beer Pong Tournament at Tin Roof in downtown San Diego on April 23 and on Saturday, May 7, she is hosting Encinitas Yoga Day at 8 a.m. at Vuori Clothing. The event will feature a yoga class, chair massages, kids’ activities, giveaways and an after-party brunch. From 9-10 a.m. participants can enjoy pre-grand opening shopping at the new Vuori location, 625 S, North Coast Hwy. 101.
The 2016 Man and Woman of the Year will be announced at the LLS Campaign Finale Gala, which will be held on Saturday, May 14 at the Hard Rock Hotel. Visit mwoy.org/sd/ and click on Chelsea Street’s page for tickets and information on “100K by May” events and for the Finale Gala.