Two years ago, Olivia Lafferty, a Goleta Valley Junior High student, was diagnosed with Stage 2 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Inspired by Lafferty’s courage in the face of her diagnosis, her friends and classmates founded the Lakes of Love Club at school and organized a four-mile, nonprofit race to raise awareness and money for donation to the Santa Barbara Cancer Center.
The Lakes of Love Club is entirely student-run. Dos Pueblos students and co-presidents Delia Bullock, Camilla Wyss, and Bela Lafferty (the latter is Olivia’s sister) all felt that this was an important cause for many reasons, but namely because they felt that joining and then managing the event together was a way to positively affect the community.
“[Being a part of Lakes of Love] is very fulfilling — we are kids and do not have a ton of experience, but we have learned that we can do this,” Wyss said. “Every new admission to the cancer ward affects us, so we saw this as our opportunity to step up and help people feel supported by their community.”
Since their first race two years ago, the Lakes of Love Club has teamed up with Santa Barbara-based running group Club West, who helped them learn the ins and outs of holding a charity event. With Club West’s help, Lakes of Love has raised over $6,000 for cancer research since its inception. This year, club members expect at least 200 participants and to raise $4,000.
The Lakes of Love race will be held on May 26 at Stow Grove Park where club members, their classmates, their teachers, and Santa Barbara locals will sweat it out to show their support. Olivia, whose cancer is currently in remission, will walk this year’s race.
True to their mission of spreading awareness to better support cancer patients and their families, Lakes of Love co-presidents would like to reach out to local elementary schools and set up funds and further expand their efforts.
The Lakes of Love race will be held May 26 at Stow Grove Park at 9:00 a.m. Go here for race information. Race day registration is $20 for all ages.